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Paper 3 - 1 Rhetoric R1A Section 5 Paper 3 The Gentle Lena...

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Rhetoric R1A, Section 5 October 19, 2007 Paper 3 “The Gentle Lena”: The Best Interpretation of Repetition Lena is a simpleminded, but gentle and young German servant. She lives her miserable life without knowing what she believes and how she feels. In Three Lives , Gertrude Stein develops Lena’s story using multiple unique forms of repetition. This stylistic convention reiterates details about the characters’ features and the plot’s gradual movement which mainly focuses on Lena’s state of mind. Although there are various interpretations of the purposes of Stein’s repetitions, in “The Gentle Lena,” they succeed in foreshadowing, emphasizing the character’s state of beings and relations, and appearing in pairs. All of these methods help the plot develop. In a short story, plot development consists of many aspects, one of which is character development. Stein uses the repeating technique with Lena’s and the other characters’ descriptions. From this, the reader can more readily identify connections between the characters, which could be important in understanding the plot as it progresses. Two examples are, “…and then too, this young tailor always did whatever his father and his mother wanted” and “ He had a sullen temper, too” (Stein 216-217). These details both refer to Herman Kreder’s and Lena Mainz’s passive personalities. The word “too” hints to the reader that there is no mistake in the similarity between the two. Now the reader knows that the couple is very much alike. However, this does not help Lena in becoming more of an individual in society. Throughout the story, Lena is unaware of her place in the world and does not try to find it. And with a husband who is just like her in 1
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“saving” and being “good workers” does nothing to change that (Stein 217). Therefore, with this in mind, Stein continues the plot with no promises of Lena ever becoming a dynamic character.
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