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KATHERINE MANSFIELD; DORIS LESSING Reading Assignment : Norton Anthology , pages 2183-2208; 2300-2323. Writing Assignment: 645-8198 1. Discuss Katherine Mansfield's stylistic techniques, especially her use of flashbacks and symbols, in "The Daughters of the Late Colonel." In what ways does her story differ from a more traditionally structured narrative? How does the structure of the story (i.e., the way the story unfolds) reinforce its theme or themes The story unfolds through flashbacks. The characters remember things that happened, like the time when Cyril came to their house for tea (2192). The flashbacks are a way for Mansfield to show us what is happening inside of the characters’ minds: Josephine and Constantia think about the last time Cyril visited, and decide to send him their father’s gold watch (2194). The effect of the flashbacks are that the focus of the story is not on the plot (the story’s plot is extremely understated), but rather on the characters. Whereas a traditional narrative might be told in chronological order, Mansfield chooses to portray two sisters who think back on memories of their father and relatives. The narrative switches from telling the story to telling what the characters are thinking, allowing us to become more acquainted with the inner workings of Josephine and Constantia’s minds. The flashbacks also serve to illuminate Constantia and Josephine’s role in society. They grew up in Ceylon, India, and were part of the Colonizing class. Thus, their memories include Buddhas, pagodas, and black Indian men. They don’t send their father’s watch to their brother in the colonies, though, because “men so seldom wear waistcoats in those hot climates” (2191). We can clearly see that Constantia and Josephine look down upon the natives. Both of them picture black Indian couriers delivering the watch. Even though what they imagine is different, the overall message is that “natives” are untrustworthy. Further, Constantia asks, “Oh, would you trust a gold watch to a native?” (2191)
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The girls also imagine what their father would have thought upon learning that he had been buried. They worry what he would say, thinking he might say, “Buried. You two girls had me buried?” (2188). They worry that “Father would never forgive them” (2189). We can see through what they think their father would say that he had an iron grip on the girls. They are indecisive and worry constantly about what to do without him. They are not married, probably because he did not allow them to meet men. The father represents the British Empire, and Josephine and Constantia represent the colonies. Without him, they are paralyzed. They are not sure if they can survive without him. They can’t bear to pick up the pieces after he dies. Constantia says, “But why not be weak for
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This note was uploaded on 06/10/2010 for the course ENG 113 taught by Professor Clark during the Spring '04 term at University of Saskatchewan- Management Area.

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