history in literature

history in literature - Sarah Hall Intro. To Drama 10.15.07...

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Sarah Hall Intro. To Drama 10.15.07 History in Literature Before coming to college, I never realized how much history effected literature. Upon entering Introduction to Drama, it became clear that reading a play forty years after the year it was set in can significantly alter your views on the matter. Three good examples that use history as a filter are Nocturne by Adam Rapp, Before it Hits Home by Cheryl L. West, and Volume of Smoke by Clay McLeod Chapman. In each of these stories, history plays its own character. It makes you question how it would be seen in present day and how it would affect your emotions while reading it. I believe that history has greatly altered my opinions of each of these plays. Nocturne is a play about a seventeen year old boy who accidentally kills his sister. The decapitation in the car accident drives his mother mad and causes his father to cross a dangerous line. Following the threat, he walks out of his home and does not return for fifteen years. After the time has passed is where we enter the story. The narrator, now a grown man, is living in New York and working at a near-by used book store. History takes a role here as it separates us from the actual event. We were not around when he killed his sister, nor when his life was threatened and he walked out. Seeing the story now has given the boy (theoretically) time to settle and move on. There is no longer (as far as we know) as much angst and anger associated with the accident. If we had seen the story as it happened, with much more detail involved, I feel that we would have been much more sympathetic towards the parents. Fifteen years after a gun is put to a boys lips, we are going to be on the boys side, especially since we do not yet know the father. All sympathy was not lost though. History detached me from the story in a way that I was hearing a one-sided story and all major feelings had passed, but although the accident occurred fifteen
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years earlier, I still felt sorry for the boy. No matter how old you are or how much time has passed, you’re still going to have to say “I killed my sister.” That is not something to get over. It made me feel even worse when he said “Thanks, Dad. It’s just that cars…Even being in one.” (Rapp 64). You can still feel his pain after all the years.
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This essay was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course THEA 112 taught by Professor Keller during the Spring '08 term at VCU.

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history in literature - Sarah Hall Intro. To Drama 10.15.07...

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