Short Story Essay1 1

Submitted By Copperhorse
Words: 1274
Pages: 6

The Prevalence of Death in Literature One of the most feared things in everyone’s life is the thought of death. There are many reasons that people fear death, the most common reason is the thought that nobody knows what happens after death. Most religions believe in some sort of life after death, although it has never been factually proven that there is life after death. There are also those who fear death because they do not want to cause pain towards their loved ones. However, there are some people who are not afraid of death, and in some cases some people would actually prefer death rather than to keep living. People usually question why somebody would choose to die rather than live their lives to the fullest. The answer to that question is very simple, the world we live in is a very dark place. Hundreds of thousands of people die every day in the world, but the amount of people each death impacts is enormous. Therefore, authors have to cade to their audience and write about death. There are a few reasons why a large percentage of authors include death in their stories. Most of these stories were written before the 1970’s. There were many wars with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of casualties before this time period. The authors were most likely affected by the sudden deaths of people they knew that had to go to war. Another factor in the prevalence of death in literature was that according to an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[t]he risk of dying decreased by 60 percent from 1935 to 2010” (Hoyert 2). There are not many things that are able to connect the author to everyone who reads the story, but one of those few things is death. Everyone will experience death once, but they will have most likely seen somebody else die before they themselves experience it. Sometimes in remembrance for somebody who passed away, an author may write a story based off of that person’s life. Finally, although not all death includes violence, some acts of death do. When it comes to violence and entertainment, publishers know that violence sells to consumers. If the writer can make a lot of money writing about violence and death, they will write about violence and death. The stories in “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien are based upon his experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War. These experiences unfortunately, but obviously, include death of fellow and enemy soldiers. Therefore in one of his stories, he speaks of the death of a soldier named Ted Lavender. Lavender was a typical teenager who was drafted by the United States Armed Forces to fight in Vietnam. There was very little training involved before being sent off to war, and due to their age and lack of leadership, Lavender was shot in the head. There is a reason why Lavender is mentioned so much in O’Brien’s stories, which is because O’Brien will never be able to forget that soldier being killed right in front of him. Once you see such a gruesome death, you will likely never forget it. The story “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood is solely based on the thought of death. Atwood gives the reader six scenarios in which a couple of characters live out their lives. They range from the average get married, have children, and die to the most extreme scenarios including adultery and suicide. However at the end of each scenario, Atwood reminds us that everyone in each scenario eventually dies. Atwood points this out to us in order to question the meaning of a “happy ending” in any story that one would read. According to Atwood, unless death is deemed as something that is joyful, there is no such thing as a happy ending. This may suggest that good writers don’t try to trick their readers into thinking that there is a happy ending, but instead finish the story with death because in the end any reader should know that there is death. Another interesting story is “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The time period in which authors live