Turning Points, an Inspection of Different Perspectives
Turning points in a story reflect the implied meaning of the author and the interpretation of the reader. An author who develops his or her turning point does so to emphasize a certain aspect of their literature. Readers are meant to follow the literature not lead, and in this sense the reader follows the paths set in place by the author to the inevitable conclusion. There are always various paths to be taken by characters of the literature, but there is the eventuality of the path leading to no others. This path leads to the conclusion of the literature and the end of the story. The path that leaves no other foreseeable option and sets the pace of the literature to the end is the turning point. Due to the characteristics of turning points, it is left to the reader s discretion to determine when a turning point is presented. Often, two readers of the same literature will come to different conclusions concerning what exactly is the turning point in a novel. With this explanation, I intend to procure new insight concerning the turning points of certain short stories and thus provide depth to my definition.
The short story How Much Land Does a Man Need? , the main character is faced with greed. The main character, Pakhom, seems amiable for the most part, although he does have some definite character flaws aside from greed; that is, when angered he physically assaults his wife and children. Pakhom would pay up and then curse and beat his family. (p. 296) I believe that this side of the man was meant to soften the blow of his demise. By allowing a character to be flawed, and worse yet with a despicable habit, that character s passing evokes less mourning than would otherwise be allowed. I feel that the turning point in the novel comes when he is running the final stretch. There is one point in the story where the man knows that he should give up, but the problem remains that he believes he would, be a fool to stop now. (p.303) This in itself is consequence enough for a turning point, but the man s greed is emphasized further when he admits that he has failed, sees one last chance to make it and kills himself in the process:
He was about to stop when he heard the Bashkirs still shrieking. And he remembered that though it seemed below that the sun had set, it would still be shining on top of the shikhan. Pakhom took a deep breath and ran up the shikhan. It was still light there. As Pakhom reached the top, he saw the elder sitting in front of the cap, chuckling, holding his sides with his hands. Pakhom remembered his dream and groaned; his legs gave way and he fell forward, his hands touching the cap . Pakhom s laborer ran to life him, but the blood was flowing from his mouth and he lay dead. (p. 303)
The path that the character has chosen leaves little choice in the matter and the final outcome unavoidable. The path that he chose was not one of walking, but cold, aggressive greed. All of the decisions that Pakhom had made prior to that choice had other options and consequences. The man s choices, influenced by greed, made bare by physical exertion, grew sparser as the story went on; eventuality being that the man had no recourse after the turning point. The reader, from the outside view, can clearly see the events as they unfold, easily acknowledge the thinning choices, and in this instance, identify the turning point with relative ease.
To Please His Wife , provided a slight challenge in ascertaining the turning point in the story. Usually a turning point is emphasized by a chance in pace from the literature. At the very least, a turning point brings about an event, or acts as a herald to that event. In the case of this literature, there were many events that changed during the course of the story, greatly impeding a reader s attempts to surmise the turning point. After much deliberation, I believe the turning point is indicated when the wife admits her distaste for the lower living compared to her friend. It is not enough, said she. My boys will have to live by steering the ships that the Lesters own; and I was once above her. (p. 277) By making such a statement, she allows her husband to see her discontentment. The husband is loving and caring to the point where he will try to do almost anything to remedy his wife s discontent. Because she openly admits her distaste, he husband feels compelled to bridge the gap between themselves and the Lesters. This eventually leads to another voyage. That fateful voyage yielded only sorrow, as the wife lost her husband and children.
The Hint of an Explanation , a very powerful story has many elements contained within that fall just short of turning points. The priest has a consistently apologetic fashion, which he employs while explaining his story. These apologetic moments serve to denote areas of inflection and, commonly, areas of choices. Don t think his plans were as simple as that, my companion said, or as crude. There was much more hate than love, poor man, in his make-up. (p. 250). In this instance, he describes Blacker unfolding his plan. The slight, subtle, prodding done by Blacker subconsciously narrows the choices in the child s head. The child no longer considers Blacker to be a stranger, although far from a friend. Due to the fact that Blacker is now considered an acquaintance, he cannot disregard favors or deals so easily, and thus his options narrow. They are narrowed still by the not-so-subtle brandishing of a cutthroat razor. These pale in comparison to the child s thoughts. The significance of the Host takes on new value just as the turning point comes along:
I laid the packet on the chair by my bed and tried to go to sleep, but I was haunted by the shadows on the wall where the curtains blew, the squeak of furniture, the rustle in the chimney, haunted by the presence of God there on the chair. The Host had always been to be —well, the Host. I knew theoretically, as I have said, what I had to believed but suddenly, as someone whistled on the road outside, whistled secretively, knowingly, to be, I knew that this which I had beside my bed was something of infinite value—something a man would pay for with his whole peace of mind, something that was so hated one could love it as one loves an outcast or a bullied child. (p. 253)
The whistle brings about the turning point. The child is forced to bring everything into perspective and judge at face value. Just as the whistle comes, the child realizes that the Host is his salvation. The embodiment of God s presence sitting there, his salvation within, the boy makes the choice. His turning point surpassed, he denies Blacker his wish, thus breaking the man in his hatred.
Turning points show struggle in its finest sense. The characters in all of these stories must face decisions, and these decisions have a way of affecting their entire lives. As a trend, it becomes apparent that the virtue of the thought determines the outcome. In To Please His Wife and How Much Land Does a Man Need? , their decisions were made through greed or jealousy. Because of such convictions governing their decisions, sorrow and anguish represented the outcome. This further emphasizes my point concerning implied meaning and intent of the authors; who obviously wanted to show strife, by doing so meaning can be infused to the text. The outcomes concerning the characters help accentuate meaning. These ramifications deliver the final blow, driving home the author s own convictions concerning life, human nature, and justice.