Short stories usually are amazing teaching tools. The short stories may have several literary elements, although their lengths may be brief. Therefore, they can be an exceptional source of literary analysis, providing students with instances of irony, foreshadowing, and suspense. Besides, it can encourage deep thought mainly into the circumstances, which is occurring. Common links might be apparent amid different narratives. “The Small Assassin” by Ray Bradbury demonstrate several literary elements, which is great when it involves teaching the sophomore level class.
In the short story, a main literary element would be irony. Moreover, the entire tale is ironic. The narrative revolves around a young family and their baby that has been home only for a few months. Interestingly, there is an infant, the most discernible kind of innocence, whom turns out eventually to be an assassin towards the end of the narrative. At the opening of the short story, it appears as if Alice might be irrational. As the tale progresses, the infant starts to appear a little less blameless than was initially supposed. The irony in the short story is that the innocent baby is a wicked mastermind. The innocence, which is often observed from the baby, is abruptly replaced with malevolent. Irony is evident in other places within the narrative. There are cases where Alice talks about murdering the child afore he had the opportunity of killing her. One day while David left for a business trip, she tried to murder the child. Alice said, “… I went to his room and put my hands on his neck; and I stood there for a long time, thinking and afraid. Then I put the covers up over his face and turned him over on his face and pressed him down and left him… but when I came to see him dead, David, he was alive!” (Bradbury).
In another instance, “‘Exactly what I say.’ ‘Whoever did it, he can’t carry a weapon that big around with him.’ ‘I think he weapon is somewhere near the house.’ ‘It’s probably right under our noses. What do you think, Jack?‘” The quote is an instance of vivid irony since the audience already identifies that the used weapon is right beneath their noses since they are eating it. However, the characters do not discern that they are mainly eating the homicide weapon.
The short story, “Small Assassin” is considered a good demonstration of Bradbury’s method of placing a slight twist on reality. There is an intrusion of a child called “Lucifer” mainly into the formerly normal life of Alice and David Leiber. The baby, at first, appears innocent enough, and any reader tends judging Alice as being the “strange” character due to her fantasy regarding the baby. However, before long the audience agrees with the mother, Alice that the child’s behaviours are frightening. Too often, the child’s lips are moist and his face red. The norm has been distressed. Eventually, both parents are killed, and the determination of Dr. Jeffers to carry out terminal surgery on Lucifer adds a adroit touch of dreadfulness. The audience is left mainly to decide whether Lucifer was certainly destroyed.
There is a theme of metamorphosis in the short story. The narrative metamorphoses some of the narrator childhood experiences as well as terrors, tells of an infant, terrified at finding himself thrust into hostile world, taking revenge on his parents by first terrorizing, then murdering them. The narrative also shows that Bradbury’s perception of childhood innocence is more complex than many critics realize, for, in the narrator’s view, beneath the façade of innocence lies a cauldron of sin: a dark vision of the human condition, which some critics have termed Calvinistic. Sometimes Bradbury aims to highlight the illuminating power of the unusual; sometimes he wishes to disclose the drawbacks of the daily and normal. The short story shows the anticipation that humankind will deal ingeniously with the new worlds, which it appears determined to make. The characters in the short story are changed mainly by their experiences, especially whenever they meet great evil below the surface of apparently ordinary life.
There is danger, though, in considering Bradbury as a fantasy writer appropriate for adolescents only. The dissimilarity between reality and fantasy is not intensely developed in the baby, whose familiarity of the universe is minimal. He usually plays with this existing tension between reality and fantasy in dealing with the principal themes, i.e., the sovereignty of the present, the power of the past, as well as the temptations of the future. In a universe of Bradbury’s short story, fantasy becomes important for an individual living in a progressively technological period or with experiences, which, like an iceberg, usually, are nine-tenths hidden underneath the surface. In such cases, the skills to imagine several changes or futures, and towards choosing the best amongst them become essential for survival.
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