Larry’s Party Essay, Research Paper

All good authors use a variety of writing techniques to create unique and imaginative stories. Most often when an author takes a particular perspective it allows the reader a certain amount of insight. Another useful technique is flashbacks, which allow the reader to become more aware of the story line. A very effective method of writing is to use metaphors to create a sense of symbolism. Through the techniques of perspective, metaphors and flashbacks, Carol Shields develops plot, character and symbolism. The utilization of flashbacks allows the reader to follow the development of the plot. Throughout the book, the author uses the technique of flashbacks and flash-forwards to develop a unique way of narrating the story. This is used to fill in points of uncertainty that the reader may have. To fully develop the plot, an author must ensure that the reader understands what is going on. Carol Shields uses this technique in Larry’s Party, allowing the reader to understand the plot to its full potential. The author uses this technique when describing the birth of Larry’s son. In the story one of the major events of his life occurs “off-screen”. Larry’s son, Ryan, is born between chapters and is something that the reader just accepts. In a later chapter, the story unfolds backwards from the boy’s adolescence to the discovery of his wife, Dorrie’s, pregnancy. The first time his son is introduced, Larry says, “Ryan at six was underweight. He was a picky eater (Carol Shields, Larry’s Party. Page 194).” He then goes on to describe his son’s life, back to the day he was born. As the story goes on, characters are reintroduced and events are retold. This is done because as time goes on, Larry learns more about himself and about life. Each time events are repeated they are retold with a sharper emotional insight. The reader grows with Larry, thus leaning, growing and evolving as he does. After his divorces, Larry is bitter and angry with his wives. As time goes on he realizes how important life and family are to him. He becomes more aware of the world and through flashbacks we see how he changes. He thinks about himself now and again how he was years ago. He remembers, “That stumbling being who knows now that every single day something is taken him and that one day it will be too much? Some twenty years ago it was different (Shields, p. 331).” The author allows the reader to become involved in Larry’s relationships as they evolve, leading them to become more immersed in the unfolding story. Through flashbacks we learn what Larry’s priorities are changing with the times. In his earlier years he is concerned mainly will his job at the flower shop and with his soon-to-be wife, Dorrie. As Larry ages, his prerogatives turn to his son and less from his career. Although through the majority of the story the reader hears little of Ryan, as flashbacks occur they discover Larry’s growing concern for his son. Years after his son is born, we hear nothing of Ryan until Larry recalls how he felt about his son as he was born. He recalls, “Then he knew, suddenly, what being a father meant. That savage desire to protect. To watch out for danger (Shields, p. 195).” We see that the biggest day of Larry’s life is his son’s birth, even though we heard little of the experience. Although it seems Larry thinks little of the day his son is born at the time, we learn of his true feelings as time goes on. The use of flashbacks allows the reader to get a comprehensive look at the plot as it develops. As Larry flashbacks and flash-forwards through his complex life, the author is developing the plot of the story. The author’s utilization of metaphors allows the reader the opportunity to have a better understanding of the story and creates symbolism. Metaphors are used to explain many of the events of the story. They help the reader to follow Larry’s life, through its “turns” and “dead-ends,” like those of a maze. The maze is the main metaphor in the Larry’s Party. Larry’s advancement in his career in building hedge mazes chronicles his life at that particular moment in time. Throughout the beginning of the story, Larry is converting his backyard into a small hedge maze. His wife is opposed to this idea and develops a strong hate for the plants in the backyard. Her future destruction of the maze is a symbol of the destruction of their marriage. The maze in their backyard is a symbol for their marriage and seeing what his wife does he realizes it is over. “And Larry himself, stunned, battered and opening his mouth at last, giving way not to speech, but to language’s smashed, broken syllables and attempted vowel sounds; the piercing cries and howls of a man injured beyond words (Shields, p. 97).” The maze, in this case is a reflection of his marriage with his first wife. When analyzed, Larry’s reaction can be seen as his feelings of hurt, as he realizes how his marriage has disintegrated. The maze also helps the reader to grasp more difficult concepts. Larry describes his relationships or sometimes his life as a maze. He often over complicates things and then confuses others. Larry does this, and we see how he views the world at that particular moment in time. When discussing mazes with his second wife, she responds saying, “So this is what mazes are about.’ Beth said, ‘You kept telling me that they were about love or sex or God, but really they’re just fun (Shields, p.222).” This shows Larry’s complex philosophy of life as well as Beth’s innocence. Through this writing technique the reader understands the difficult concepts of the story. The maze is a metaphor for Larry’s life as well as the way Larry views the world. He views the world as a complex maze, one, which has decisions to make, problems that arise, and a final goal. In Larry’s maze of life his final goal is personal enlightenment. Larry describes this concept as he states, “The whole thing about mazes is that they make perfect sense only when you look down from above (Shields, p. 219).” He views his life in a philosophical manner, but through this unique writing technique, Carol Shields allows the reader to follow the story. The metaphor of the maze proves itself to be an excellent method of creating symbolism. The author’s practices of unique writing techniques of third person narrative, time shifts and metaphors are uses to develop plot, character and symbolism. The omnipotent narrator allows the reader to experience the character to their full extent. Through flashbacks the reader is aware of the advancing plot as the story reveals itself. The other writing technique used through the story is metaphors which create symbolism giving the reader a better understanding. The main concept of the book is enfold the reader in the story using a variety of well thought out and brilliantly placed writing techniques.

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