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Сегодня вашему вниманию представлен готовый анализ произведения В.Фолкнера.
«AN ERROR IN CHEMISTRY» by WILLIAM FAULKNER
The story «An Error in Chemistry» is written by William Faulkner who was the master of psychological analysis and the works of whom are characterized by the use of implication, stream of consciousness, peculiar graphics, metaphorical language etc.
The plot of the story centers around Joel Flint, a Northerner, who kills his wife and her father – old Wesley Pritchel who were the inhabitants of the South. Then he plays the role of the old man and tries to make the profit from it. But his contempt for local traditions becomes his undoing.
I believe the author worked in two directions in this story, that's why I'd like to define the following subject matters:
1) a murderer who tries to evade penalty
2) an outlander in the society
So we come to the following ideas:
1) lies have short legs;
2) a person is a prisoner, locked up in jail of customs and traditions, and those who are reluctant to live in it, are sure to remain lonely and misunderstood.
At the beginning of the story the narrator describes Joel Flint and his opposition to the southerners.
At the sentence «He was the foreigner, the outlander, the Yankee, who had come into our country» the synonymic repetition is contrasted with the personal pronoun to stress the external conflict, which exists between the Southerners and Northerners. The origin of the conflict is in the war between the South and the North, in the reluctance of people to accept representatives of the contrary camp as a part of their society.
The following sentence – «This was a harsh and contemptuous derogation of our local southern custom of drinking whiskey» – is also used to draw a boundary-line between Flint and the southerners.
Depicting Joel Flint, the narrator calls him «a dweller among the cities, never accounting long resident in any one of them». The function of the metaphor is to show that he wasn't quite at home anywhere, for his attitude was «contemptuous» to people and their habits.
Apart from that, the epithets in «the dim-witted spinster of almost 40» with «her irascible and violent-tempered father» and her «hermit-existence» are contrasted with that one in «the good farm», which characterize the man as an avid, covetous and mercenary person.
It's worth mentioning that the author uses foreshadowing in the story: «he and his father-in-law could easily have cast the same shadow». But the whole likeness is denied: «One definite personal habit by which he presently became known throughout the whole county…»
In the story there are lots of repetitions: «the shadow cast, three squirrels, watch chain», the phrases «he wasn't afraid» and «the wrong one is dead» etc.
Now I'd like to dwell on them. The use of «three squirrels» fulfils two functions: on the one hand they are a symbol, which means three dead persons; on the other – they are to draw away the attention of the police from the human blood on the steps.
The use of «watch chain» is also symbolic, for it bears an idea that all the murderers will be caught at one time.
The phrases «he wasn't ever afraid» and «the wrong one is dead» have something in common. Joel Flint had no principles to be afraid of breaking them. He had predatory nature of the Northerner and was ready to achieve his aim at any cost. And only old Pritchel stood in his way to money.
As for the shadows, it should be noted that Ellie didn't had it. I suppose that's connected with the fact she was a shadow herself; her name is hardly mentioned in the text and she is described only as the daughter or the wife.
Owing to the sentence: «Three labels, which cast two shadows for the simple and only reason that it requires a minimum of two in order to postulate the verities of injustice and grief» – we realize that of those three persons only Flint and Pritchel were able to think and act, but the woman was just a victim, a toy in their hands. For Pritchel she was a servant, and for Flint – a means to get money.
Apart from that the author singles out the loneliness of the men. Flint was lonely as he was a Yankee; and Pritchel was too arrogant as a Southerner who was not able to admit the victory of the Northerners and didn't have any notion of selling even the clay to them, and he preferred to be isolated from all that.
Pritchel's loneliness let Joel Flint play the role of the old man, but one mistake underlined by the title of the story gave him away.
Chemistry is the science that deals with the correct mixture of substances. Flint didn't know as did any Southerner that sugar would dissolve in water, but not in raw whiskey and this error betrayed him.
One more thing we should comment on is a case of allusion which refers to the Bible: «Man, fear thyself, thyne arrogance and vanity and pride». This quotation leads us to the opinion, that one shouldn't be extreme in his outlooks, otherwise it can be turned against him.
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