Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Death in Jerusalem” is a third-person narrative that unfolds in a mostly chronological order. William Trevor uses no startling or unusual devices in telling his story but instead employs conventional techniques in a masterly way. Take, for example, the manner in which the story is framed and the way tension is managed. The first segment of the story, which follows the parting words of the two brothers at the train station when they confirm their intention to meet in Jerusalem the next year, is succeeded by Francis’s musings as he walks back to town. These musings provide background information about the two brothers, their different temperaments and situations, their mother, and the rest of the Daly family.

When Francis reaches the town center, a woman’s greeting interrupts his train of thought. This interruption permits the narrator to change gears to give an account of the activities of Father Paul in San Francisco and of the concerns and doings in Francis’s small town in Tipperary. The narrator then shifts to a more intense degree of perception to let the reader know what goes on in the minds and hearts of Francis Daly and his mother.

The second part of the story, longer and containing more circumstantial detail than the first part, focuses on several scenes in which generalized narrative, conversational exchanges, and telling description move readers through the brothers’ tour of the sights of Bethlehem and Jerusalem and...

(The entire section is 439 words.)