Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 297
In Ambrose Bierce’s ‘‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’’ (1891), Peyton Farquhar is about to be hanged from a bridge because of a military crime. The rope breaks, he escapes by swimming away, and he reviews the events of his life—all in a hallucination in the instant before his death.
In Kate Chopin’s ‘‘The Story of an Hour’’ (1894), Louise Mallard receives news that her husband has died in a train wreck. Tearlessly, she retreats to her room and reviews the course of her married life. She comes to recognize that she has gained great personal freedom with his death. When her husband suddenly walks in the door— he was not on the train after all—she drops dead. Her family and physician assume she died of joy.
‘‘The Metamorphosis’’ by Franz Kafka, published in 1937, depicts the transformation of Gregor Samsa from a responsible young man to a bug. Kafka’s emotional portrayal of Gregor and his family create insight on the facade of social propriety and one’s need to escape the dominating roles of society.
In Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, written in 1938, the central character, called the Stage Manager, reviews the histories of the lives of various inhabitants of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.
Joan Didion’s ‘‘Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,’’ published in 1966, mingles fact and fiction. It is the real account of a real woman, Lucille Marie Maxwell Miller. However her story is told through Didion’s narrative and her notion that life can become superficial without a hint of the forbidden.
Trainspotting, published in 1993 by Irvine Welsh is a collection of short stories recounting the revelries and derelict antics of a group of boys in Edinburgh doing everything in their power to not fall victim to ‘‘growing up.’’
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