Life in the twentieth century is different through each decade but also much different than life in a century before. The short story "Magic", written by Katherine Anne Porter in 1930, shows how people think they have choices in life but their future is actually already planned out for them. Ernest Hemingway?s short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" which was written in 1933 shows how people feel about the well being of others and others feelings. "The Storm", written by Kate Chopin in 1898 is an example of how views of marriage have changed. Although this wasn?t written in the twentieth century it was written right before the beginning and still paints a picture of how life is now going into the twenty-first century.
In the story "Magic" a young prostitute named Ninette is treated very badly in the house she lives in. This is proven by the quote "They quarreled, the madam cheated her on her checks: you know, the girl got a check, a brass one, every time, and at the week?s end she gave those back to the madam, yes, that was the way, and got her percentage, a very small little of her earnings: it is a business, you see, like any other- and the madam used to pretend the girl had given back only so many checks, you see, and really she had given many more, but after they were out of her hands, what could she do?" (Page 121) This quote shows how the woman of the house cheated Ninette out of her money. These next two quotes tell how Ninette was physically abused. "So she would say, I will get out of this place, and curse and cry. Then the madam would hit her over the head." (Page 121-122) "The girl said, Keep you hands off or I?ll brain you: and at that the madam took hold of her shoulders, and began to lift her knee and kick this girl most terribly in the stomach, and even in her most secret place, Madame Blanchard, and then she beat her in the face with a bottle, and the girl fell back again into her room where I was making clean." (Page 122) Ninette was very popular with the men that came to the house and was very important to the madam but was still abused and treated very badly. Ninette left and returned seven days later which the madam thought was because of a charm from New Orleans but was really because that house was the only thing Ninette knew. Even though Ninette thought she could leave and find a better job that house was the only choice she had. In those times if you were a prostitute that was the only thing you could be, you had no other choices. In the twentieth century we think that we can make our own choices but in reality our future is already planned out for us.
"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" tells the story of a deaf old man, a young waiter, and an older waiter. The old man likes to sit in the café and drink. The younger waiter is very inconsiderate and impatient. This is supported by the quote, "He?ll stay all night," he said to his colleague. "I?m sleepy now. I never get into bed before three o?clock. He should have killed himself last week." (Page 111) He shows us life in the twentieth century by showing how younger generations are more ignorant to the feelings and well being of others than older generations. This is explained by the quote, "I am of those who like to stay late at the café." the older waiter said. "With all those who do not want to go to bed. (Page 113) With all those who need a light for the night." The older waiter has compassion for people who do not have anyone else or any place to go to. He likes to stay at the café in case there is a person who needs him.
In the short story "The Storm" Calixta is at home waiting for her son Bibi and her husband Bobinot to return from the store when a storm starts. An old boyfriend of Calixta?s, Alcee shows up at her door and asks if he may stand there till the rain stops. He then comes inside and begins to get closer to Calixta. The quote "They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world," says that this was meant to happen sooner or later, it was their right. Alcee then leaves and Bibi and Bobinot return home after the storm is over. "Bobinot and Bibi began to relax and enjoy themselves, and when the three seated themselves at table they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballiere?s." This quote gives the impression that Calixta acted as though nothing happened and everything was fine. "So the storm passed and everyone was happy," says that the storm was the excuse for this incident to happen. "The Storm" teaches us that marriage is viewed as something not sacred. Calixta cheated on her husband and had no regrets because she knew that it was her right and was eventually supposed to happen with Alcee. Calixta did not feel bad about being unfaithful because this made her realize how much she loved her husband.
Ideas from the beginning of the century are different from ideas now in the end but some central views are still the same. These three characters Ninette, the young waiter, and Calixta all teach us how life is in the twentieth century. Ninette teaches us how no matter how much you think you can make your own choices your future is always planned out for you. The young waiter teaches us how people can be so ignorant to the feelings of others. Calixta teaches us how marriage is viewed not as something special.