Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The style of “Paradise” is erratic and lacking in uniformity. Governed by a limited, unusually closely focused point of view, it succeeds impressively in conveying both the hollowness and immediacy of the characters’ momentary existence. Just as the physical environment supplies a sense of a merely nominal context, the style provides a sense of existence being a tissue of moments, devoid of cumulative significance or relevant recall. This treatment of time is perhaps the story’s most satiric implementation of standard expectations of paradise. (Because paradise represents an attempt to imagine eternity, conventional experiences of time do not apply there.) The story’s time signature also underlines the manner in which matters such as direction of plot and development of character are made deliberately problematic. This aspect receives additional emphasis from the fact that the story’s moments of experience bear a merely tangential relationship to one another.

By these various means, “Paradise” becomes a story of condition rather than of possibility. Thus, its style and form contribute by their nature to the overall sense of the protagonist’s paralysis of will, or moral imprisonment. In turn, the story’s tacit but insistent characterization of entrapment makes it an interesting variation on traditional, or at least pre-Freudian, fictional techniques for depicting sexual entanglements.

Perhaps the story’s novelty will be...

(The entire section is 474 words.)