January 23, 2012
The Promise by Will Small
i actually am an english department student. my english isn't good, though. i however want to share something i've got from my lecture so my mom won't be upset for letting me study there - by thinking i got nothing.
this is my first assignment on introduction to prose analysis lecture, anyway. an analysis - with no special approach - on short story written by Will Small.
i know that this short story isn't that popular in this virtual world so that my lecturer feel easy to let his students surf in internet. we found nothing, of course. i even don't know who Will Small is, and there's no way to get Google help me. thus, i did i myself. and the result goes as my wish. here it is :)
A Brief Analysis on The Promise by Will Small
special characteristic/uniqueness of the short story
The Promise by Will Small is the short story I finally choose for this essay for its special characteristic compared to two other stories (Belinda Miller’s A Love Song and Jennifer Eadie’s Coward) in its value; in other word is the story itself. The strong value lay in the story becomes the main point of collecting the uniqueness of The Promise.
As to the interpretive story concept of Laurence Perrine in Story and Structure, The Promise leads the reader to a deeper thinking about life in the process of knowing ourselves. It is not merely a writing in purpose of amusing someone by its literary form but also an enlightenment for such problem provided as the main idea of the story. How the author explains his point of view of life through this story is successfully delivered by the fact that the reader (I myself) can sum up the idea of not taking literary works as merely way to lead us take superficial attitudes toward life. Instead, this story by its values makes the reader realize what life is actually like –as the matter of interpretive story which let the reader be the actor to reveal what something is actually be and should be.
Though the value feels strongly dominated this story, there is no way to neglect the existing of amusing form in The Promise. How the author lays the value through a good form so that the reader can accept it is actually one of the ways to decide whether the value is good or not. However, I still prefer take value as the uniqueness of this story compared to other. While two other stories both also use first person in their point of view and contain certain message for each idea, with the longest word of all, The Promise has more opportunity to put the ideology more clearly in readers mind –in case to raise their awareness to think it more.
Personally, the two other stories are not bad at all, but I found it is really something for the author to write such a (long) short story with no reason for readers to stop before finishing it. It may particularly because my interest for such theme upheld as its value, but there is no sentence thrown as a waste but explaining the whole idea of taking analogy of life as one black hole after another.
However, somehow taking value as the uniqueness of a story might raise a problem of judging every story as a special only because of the existing of value. When we are simply agreeing value as a theme since it usually appears as the main idea or the morality core (which later mostly decided to be the theme), it is obvious that not every story can be special or unique merely by having such a value. As to the concept written in Story and Structure that not all stories have theme, we can sum up that not every value can be the special characteristic of a story.
fictional unity and the coherence
From the first point above, it is obvious that I assume The Promise has a quite good fictional unity and coherence towards each internal element of the story. How the author constructs the good structure more or less can be illustrated as the diagram below:
All the fictional elements are well built enough since it is not an easy stuff to take one point as its major element in term of contribution. How the author use flashback plot to create such particular suspense for the reader is well mixed with the use of first person point of view to get the closer approach of the reader to be the actor for instance. Hence, a correct atmosphere can be felt in this correct characterization and plot usage.
Concerning more for its plot, I think The Promise can be claimed as the best among two other stories since its flashback takes good contribution of constructing a good-amusing form. I called the use of ‘time stating’ in this story as an excellent technique of the writer to drive the reader from the past to the recent time and vice versa. It may be a common technique but I don’t lose its literary sense and it even helps the plot to be quite clear when the author opens the story with 2:36 am stated as the time setting. The story then goes back to the previous months (stated clearly too) and ends to the recent time at 3:40 am.
A good plot, in my case, is the one which can help the author construct a good structure and lead the reader to the understanding. Thus, it doesn’t mean by merely creating such complicated and complex plot then a story can be judged as the greatest one with no understanding of the reader at all.
The use of first person point of view in this story not only gives an easier way to understand the story but also supports the flow of the story. As an interpretive literature which contains more emotional and mental conflict, it is better for the author to use this point of view to get the understanding of the reader. Since the purpose of creating interpretive literature is not only to entertain the reader, the understanding of the readers which later leads them to a deeper thinking and analysis is needed.
Since there is only few numbers of people as the character in The Promise, it is easier to analyze each of them more deeply. The way the author introduce the characters is quite obvious by their actions (both in mind or real act). A quite good setting also shown in every time, place and atmosphere described by the author; then it is even easier for the reader to get the feeling as the doer of the story.
Thus, how the author builds a good structure through the fictional unity and coherence is actually the only way to make the purpose of the story is well accepted.
visibility of form and value
I find The Promise as the story which has a good value more visible than its form since I feel the soul of the story lies within its value. However, once I say ‘the value is more visible than the form’, it will be totally different with ‘the form is more visible than the value’ because there is no vice versa for a good value bears a good form. Logically, we can accept the idea of a speech if the speaker delivers it in a good structure and communication. It is what makes the difference between escape and interpretive story. While escape story has its only object pleasure, the interpretive story has its object pleasure plus understanding.
The Promise tells about the internal problem of ordinary IT consultant named Tom who is boring with his very ordinary life. He finds himself stick in the black hole of life where once he gets in; there will be no chance to get out. Tom actually regrets himself as the owner of “I hate my job” mentality. He then plans to take a rest for having a trip with his mate Callum, whose rejection causes Tom not to get his trip. Tom becomes comfort to the condition in the black hole; that finding himself fails to get out, he stops trying.
As the philosophy learner, Callum gets the concept on how Tom fails in reaching his self-happiness. That true happiness is not merely from the money, as to Callum’s advice, it is better for Tom to quit his job since he hates it. Ignoring Callum’s advice, Tom is finally attracted by the coming of a girl in the story: Natasha. He even feels his life is now livelier that he has got out from one black hole. However, he falls into another hole when Callum die in an accident. The hole gets into a deeper and darker condition while Natasha meets him to say goodbye. Tom stick in his deep black hole: with no friend, job, and girl.
Natasha later calls him to offer a solution to wake Tom up from his dark age. Naked dipping in the sea at the midnight for a better feeling is the solution proposed by Natasha. She even makes Tom promise to do that. Once Tom finally takes his first step to move on fulfilling the promise, he gets his freedom for the first time.
There are at least five values in The Promise: relationship, sense of loss, real happiness, nature of job, and freedom as an individual. Those concepts are softly spread by the author in the narrations and dialogues. Telling philosophy concept of something usually comes up in the form of abstract explanation. But those concepts in The Promise are brought with some clear analogies which help the reader to get the point.
As I mentioned that not every complex and complicated story has a good value, I find that almost all of stories with good value will have good form. It first entertains us by the choice of words, theme, plot, character, and other form elements, and at the same time it gets the reader understanding of life –or at least, the willingness to think it more deeply. That is what I get from The Promise.
1. Story and Structure by Laurence Perrine
2. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature by Wilfred L. Guerin, et al
the picture is taken from this