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Two short stories You gave my hyacinths by Janette Turner Hospital and The girls in their summer dresses by Irwin Shaw explore serious human sexual desires. Both stories share a tone of desperation in them. The main characters carry external conflicts with the minor characters. In both stories the main characters go through a situation in which they are to bring a change to themselves by changing the minor characters behavior and attitude but end up learning something from them and living normal lives.
In each of the stories the main character tries the change the minor character’s attitude but instead ends up loosing and learning something off them. In Janette’s book, the teacher wants to change Dellis’s attitude improve her and at least make her finish high school but instead ends up learning from her that the only reason she hated her was because the person she loved, Gian liked her and wanted to lay her. This is clearly shown when Dellis and the teacher are walking by Gian’s house,
“Gian says you’re beautiful. Gian says that you…. he says he would like to…. that’s why I hated you. But now I don’t. (80)
For the teacher this is a big blow. Due to this she learns the reason why Dellis hated her and she ends up learning something new instead of teaching her. On the other hand Frances in Irwin’s book experiences similar conflict. She wishes to change Michael and wants him not to look at other woman around him and only to be concentrating at her and to start spending some time with her. This can be seen when these couples are walking through the streets of New York, Frances says “I have an Idea, lets just hang around with each other, you and me, we’re always up to our neck in people drinking their scotch or drinking our scotch we only see each other in bed…”(4). However she later understands how Michael is and he wont change. This can be seen by Michael’s reaction to Frances question whether or not he will make a move or not. He replies, “yes I know I will”(11). In both stories these are also the turning points, hence the similarity between these stories continues. During Irwin’s turning point Frances also tries to come to a point where Michael doesn’t like her, but she finds out he does like her but he also wants other women, “I love you, but I also want them ok?”(11).
Irwin and Janette have also kept their stories pretty short. The setting in both stories is described during the first two paragraphs, not much effort is given towards it. Both stories are of character rather than setting, plot or theme. As the story progresses we can see how we develop better understanding of the characters.
Michael in Irwin’s story and Dellis in Janette’s story are the minor characters of the stories. Both of these characters deal with human sexual desire. Dellis wants to enjoy life and have a good time. She’s open and tells her teacher everything.
“It hurt when she stood naked in front of me”(78). Comments the teacher showing Dellis wouldn’t hide anything from her. Dellis also doesn’t take much time revealing her true love and she being laid.
“That’s where Gian and I did it.”
“Did it, He laid me!”(79)
This also proves Dellis’s innocence, how a fifteen year old should be o open, aggressive and naughty is amazingly described by Janette. On the other hand Michael in Irwin’s Masterpiece carries similar desires. He wishes to have it all while no one notices it. He looks at women as if he wants them. “I love you, but I want them too ok.”(11) Quoted by Irwin clearly proves it. Out of these problems the main characters are challenged to change their attitude and behavior. The teacher works very hard trying to change Dellis’s attitude and behavior but instead she is ignored and Dellis Undresses in front of her naked. The interesting part is when the teacher goes ahead undressing but keeping her limits to at least wearing her undergarments.
“I almost told her how beautiful she was.”(78)
This is very unusual to happen between a teacher and student. Alternatively in Irwin’s short story Frances wants Michael to stay only with her and not to stare at any other girl that passes by. She wishes Michael only to love her and not anyone else.
“You look at them as if you want them.”
“In a way, but I don’t do anything about it.”
“That’s why I feel bad.”(9)
Frances also reveals her desire “I have and idea. Lets not see anybody all day. Lets just hang around with each other. You and me. We’re always up to our neck in people drinking their scotch or drinking our scotch, we only see each other in bed.”(4). Such act and behavior followed by the characters in both stories deal with human sexual desire.
The tone in both stories is also similar. This tone is of desperation. In Janette’s classic the teacher is trying very hard to convince the girl to improve herself and her relationships.
“I’ll fail everything anyway.” Says Dellis.
“But you don’t have to, Dellis it’s a matter of your attitude not you ability.”
“What are you going to do with your life?”(74)
“Can you possibly be content?” The teacher adds on later.
On the other side Dellis is desperate to have a good time and enjoy. “You spoil things” as she comments numerous times throughout the story. Alternatively Frances is desperate to get to the bottom of Michael’s heart and reveal what he is hiding within himself.
“You’re going to make a move.”
“Aren’t you, come on tell me, talk aren’t you?”(11) This is a classic example of desperation. Also Michael is desperate to look at every other nice-looking girl that passes by.
“I love you, but I want them too ok.” As stated earlier.
The conflicts in both stories rise quickly and so are settled quickly. Throughout the story the main characters struggle to help the minor characters to improve them. The teacher tries to show the girl the right path; Frances tries to tell Michael the right way in which she feels happy and safe. However through this process they themselves learn something new from them and cope with the new learning’s to start living normally again.
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