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Comparing Between Two Stories

Comparing Between Two Stories

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Comparing Between Two Stories

Death is a common topic in most works of literature mostly because of man’s fascination with its causes and impact on the society. This comparison will focus on the theme of death in the stories The Sevastopol Sketches by Leo Tolstoy and Sleepy by Anton Chekhov. Chekhov (1999) adopts a controversial position concerning the topic of death and murder in “Sleepy.” The story talks about an adolescent nurse, Varka who murders an infant left in her care (Chekhov & Foote, 1999). The atrocious and rather unpredicted conclusion demonstrates Chekhov’s strategy to story writing. Rather than treading carefully on sensitive issues such as death, Chekhov preferred conducting the whole story in an ordinary and peaceful manner before attacking the reader’s emotions in a sudden way. However, the most extraordinary aspect of this account is the deferment of traditional morality in the characters’ actions particularly those that directly deal with taking away life. Within a short space of several of five short pages, the audience’s moral stand is questioned trough the usage of persistent imagery. The outcome is a reader who is very comfortable with the act of infanticide and death in general (Chekhov & Foote, 1999). Apart from the infant’s death, Chekhov’s story is also rife with other instances of death and tragedy. Through the flashback, the audience is shown Varka’s unfortunate history. Her father died in a horrifying and painful way. She was equally unable to find solace in her mother. Additionally, she is working against her wishes (Chekhov & Foote, 1999). The amount of details exposed by the author makes it easy for the audience to develop sympathy for such an inhuman act against a child.

In the collection of stories titled “The Sevastopol Sketches,” Leo Tolstoy focuses on describing the state of the Crimean War. “Sevastopol in December 1854” discusses the Siege of Sevastopol and its impact on the soldiers as well as the Crimean civilians (Tolstoy & McDuff, 1986). This part of the story is divided between real stories of the conceited and useless social lives of the officers and the actual battle fought on the warfront. The conclusion of the story combines a mixture of bliss and tragedy as the Crimean War comes to an end and the participants focus on gathering dead bodies and attending to the injured. This second story is slightly different in that it holds a direct approach towards discussing the topic of death. It shows the reader where and how the death occurs. The choice of an actual war that happened in history, as well as the inclusion of chronological accuracy in the account, serves to reinforce the legitimacy of the story as well as the gravity of the deaths documented. Tolstoy’s uses a combination of descriptive language and imagery to bring out the theme of death in the story. He says “…the flowery vale is filled with dead bodies…innocent blood is shed, and groans and curses are audible” (Tolstoy & McDuff, 1986). Tolstoy was an officer in the war during these events and therefore, his first-hand recollection of the deaths contains an element of authenticity that is transferred to the reader. His account of the war and the massive casualties is devoid of glamorization, an aspect that was rife in Chekhov’s work. Leo Tolstoy approach represents a sharp contrast from the most literature that fantasizes, exaggerate, or trivialize the concept of death.

 

References

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Chekhov, A. P., & Foote, S. (1999). Anton Chekhov: Later short stories, 1888-1903. New York: Modern Library.

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Tolstoy, L., & McDuff, D. (1986). The Sebastopol sketches. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

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