Internal And External Violence In Short Fiction Essay

Internal And External Violence In Short Fiction Term paper

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Specific time periods, such as World War II, and the Post-Civil War era bring to mind images of hate, death, and violence. Not solely external violence or violence that is carried out, such as murders, war, or blatant displays of violence such as those in Ellison’s Battle Royal, but internal violence as well. Internal violence is more about the mind, a violence of emotion, though internal violence is closely linked to external violence. They are linked not only because external violence causes internal violence, but also because of the reverse. This is seen in the works of Ellison, Borowski, O’Connor, and DeLillo. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” ;O’Connor shows the effects of internal violence compared to external violence. On one hand you have the family members that are brought off to be killed. The only thing the author lets the reader know about their fate is a solitary scream when the mother, daughter, and baby are taken away. However, for the entire time that the family is being held hostage, the grandmother is talking to The Misfit. She shows how people react to the internal violence of a stressful, and fatal ordeal. She pleads with The Misfit not to save her grandchildren’s lives, not her son and daughter-in-law’s lives, but only her own. She has no fear for anyone but herself and is consumed by the need to preserve her life. She tries everything she can to get The Misfit to spare her. She tries to convince him that he is of good blood, and could never kill a lady such as her self. She even tries to get him to turn to God for help. Of course none of this works but it makes a point. It makes the point that when faced with the fear of external violence, people will do anything to get out of it, and it puts a large strain on the victims emotions. The mere threat itself is internal violence because of this. Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” ;depicts external violence in a very forward manner. Ellison describes an evening in which ten black men are first forced to fight blindfolded, and then made to crawl on an electrified carpet to get their cash prize. “Everyone fought hysterically.” ;Ellison writes, “It was complete anarchy. Everybody fought everybody else. No group fought together long. Two, three, four, fought one, then turned to fight each other, were themselves attacked (Charters 453).” ;Directly after the fight the combatants are forced to crawl over an electrified carpet to collect money. The men are forced to degrade themselves by crawling around trying to grab money, the whole time being electrocuted, to the amusement of the audience, there for a night of entertainment. These events were not only an example of external violence, but internal as well. The external violence was also in a sense internal because the whole point of it was to degrade and embarrass the participants. The room full of white men where there simply to watch the black men entertain them, fight for them, and suffer for them. The laughter of the crowd was equally as violent as the fight. Instead of punches being thrown, words and emotions were. The reader is given a good sense of how the narrator is being mentally beaten, as well as physically, once he starts to give his speech, which was the reason he was at the event in the first place. As soon as the speech began, the crowd yelled for the narrator to speak up, so he was forced to practically yell the entire speech (even though most of the crowd was not listening), directly after being in a grueling fight. “I spoke even louder in spite of the pain. But still they talked and still they laughed, as though deaf with cotton in dirty ears (Charters 457).” ;In “This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen,” ;Tadeusz Borowski describes internal violence with great ability. There is very little external, or physical violence shown in the story, but there is a great display of mental violence shown, which is characteristic of the topic. World War II had a lot to do with internal violence. Granted there was plenty of external violence, even to a nightmarish extent, but the worst damage was done to those who lived through the entire ordeal. The story
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