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Classic Cars Essay, Research Paper

August 15, 2000

Everyone enjoys reading about stories they can relate with no matter what the

relation involves. It could be comedy, misery, joy or many others. According to Samuel

Johnson this is true. He states that ?Nothing can please many, and please long, but just

representations of general nature.? I feel this statement is true however I also feel that if a

story involves suspense or an area of interest to a reader it does not have to be something

they necessarily can relate to, just enjoy. It may not have as many readers, but it will

endure time and captivate those with that particular interest. I have selected stories on

both side of the spectrum to explain.

I feel that ?Misery? by Anton Chekov best exhibits the quality of being a ?just

representation of general nature.? The main character Iona, the carriage driver, is

experiencing overwhelming grief due to the loss of his son. More than that, Iona can not

get anyone to listen to the misery he is in or even explain what has happened or how.

Everyone in life goes through at least one grieving experience whether it be caused by

death, divorce, severe illness or other reasons. Also, there is at least one experience

which can not be shared because no one is listening or the circumstances are too hard and

to unbearable. With either, the individual is left feeling lonely, pain-stricken and

depressed. Misery is a part of life, some suffer greater misery than others, but it is no

respector of persons.

Iona knew the way he felt about losing his son and knew he simply needed to talk

about it. He made several attempts to talk to his different customers. None of them cared

about what he had to say. One customer, a hunchback, scorned, cursed and hit him for

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talking and not driving the carriage fast enough. They neglected his obvious feelings to

fulfill their own interests and pursuits. Not everyone experiences what Iona did in his

situation, but often our misery is ignored or mocked. Often we are treated this way by

others to disguise of one?s own misery. The customer that treated Iona the worst was the

hunchback. Along with being hunchback he was short and had a cracked, quivering voice.

Most likely he had experienced a lot of misery with no outlet himself and did not

empathize with others.

?This week….er….my….er….son died! We shall all die,….? says the

hunchback with a sigh, wiping his lips after coughing. ?Come, drive on!

drive on! My friends, I cannot stand crawling like this! When will he get

us there?? (Chekov 417)

In the end Iona had not succeeded in sharing his misery with any of his customers.

However, the companion that had been with him all day was available and listened, his

horse.

?That?s how it is, old girl….Kuzma Ionitch is gone….He said good-bye to

me…. He went and died for no reason….Now, suppose you had a little colt,

and you were that little colt?s own mother….And all at once that same little

colt went and died….You?d be sorry, wouldn?t you?….? The little mare

munches, listens and breathes on her master?s hands. Iona is carried away

and tells her all about it. (Chekov 419)

On the opposite side of the spectrum to Chekov?s ?Misery ? is Stephen Crane?s

?The Open Boat.? This story is about the shipwreck of the S.S. Commodore in the seas

east of New Smyrna and the detailed escape of four of its crew members back to shore on

a ten – foot life boat. The story starts up with the four escapees on the life boat. It then

gives a detailed account of how they battled the waves in the boat, who rowed the oars,

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who dipped the water out of the boat after crashing waves and selected conversations

during their journey of escape from the sea.

?The cook squatted in the bottom, and looked with both eyes at the six

inches of gunwale which separated him from the ocean.?

?His sleeves were rolled over his fat forearms, and the two flaps of his

unbuttoned vest dangled as he bent to bail out the boat.?

?The oiler, steering with one of the two oars in the boat, sometimes raised

himself suddenly to keep clear of water that swirled in over the stern.?

?The correspondent, pulling at the oar, watched the waves and wondered

why he was there.?

?The injured captain, lying in the bow, was at this time buried in that

profound dejection and indifference which comes, temporarily at least, to

even the bravest and most enduring when, willy-nilly, the firm fails, the

army loses, the ship goes down? (Crane 193).

I feel this story is not representative of common experience. It is not every day

that one encounters or hears of others encountering being shipwrecked, escaping and

making it safely back to shore. It seems unrealistic and like it is a one-in-a-million chance

of happening type of event. Though I can not directly relate, I enjoy reading this story

because of its suspense, detailed account of events and conversation and the fact that it is

based on a true story. The fact that the author wrote this story because it happened to him

made me want to read it to see what he went through and how he made it out.

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Works Cited

Chekov, Anton. ?Misery.? Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama

(1995) : 415-419.

Crane, Stephen. ?The Open Boat.? Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and

Drama (1995) : 192-210.

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