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There are two categories within the world of texts: fiction (invented) and non-fiction (non-invented). The down-categories - e.g. epic, lyric poetry and drama - are called genres.
The concept "genre" descends from the Greek word "genos" that means family or kind. A genre is a category of texts - both fiction and non-fiction - that have something in common and that separate them from other texts. The genres can thus again be subdivided.
Examples of genres that both belong to fiction are the poem and the drama. Poems are often short, poetic texts - they describe an atmosphere, a feeling, an experience. They consist of stanzas and verses and have fixed rhymes, rhythms, sentence constructions and layouts. A word class dominates.
Dramas are longer descriptions of actions - that is epic - in which there are included poetic aspects. They express with the help of a conflict that is the turn point and that drives the action forward. Therefore they consist of a beginning, a middle and an end that together has for intention of entertain.
In order to exemplify the difference between different genres Shirley Jackson's "Charles” and “Call me Arnold” written by Studs Terkel are processed here.
The first mentioned is the example of a classic short story. There is an introduction: ”The day my son Laurie started kindergarten …” (page 7, line 1) and more than one character involved: ”… I watched him go off the first morning …” (page 7, line 3). The combination of direct and indirect speech which is one of the short story characteristics is also a part of it: ”How was school today? I asked elaborately casual. All right, he said” (page 7, line 14-15). Finally the story has a sudden and surprising ending: “Charles? she said. We don’t have any Charles in the kindergarten.” (page 12, line 24-25).
The genre of the other text is the interview. The conspicuous difference from the short story is that it bounds of a question and an answer. There may possibly be an introduction and a conclusion. In this case you can see that it is an interview because the text only consists of direct speech: ”If I would believe in life after death. I would say my before-life I was living in ” (page 14, line 14-15). He only shows himself for the interviewer and the reader. At the same time the text consists of spoken language expressions like ”You know what I mean?” (page 15, line 29). However it is an edited interview since the questions are edited out. This is among other things seen of the answer ”I have emotions” (page 15, line 5) where it is obvious that he was guided to answer. The identity of the sender is explained too: ”I was born in a little Austrian town, outside ” (page 13, line 1) and ”I came out second three times …” (page 13, line 15).
Just as the genre varies there is also a difference in the language of the texts. Both texts are built up like dialogues but there is difference between the sentences. While Shirley Jackson uses longer sentences with verbs, adjectives and details: ”The third day – it was Wednesday of the first week – Charles bounced a see-saw on the head of a little girl and made her bleed, and the teacher made him stay inside all during recess” (page 8, line 24-27) and difficult words like “incredulous” and “insolent” Schwarzenegger’s answers are short, easy understood and fact orientated: “It singles out: the winner” (page 13, line 13-14). He only speaks in main sentences.
The same disparity finds expression in the people's manner and characteristics. In the short story the people's character judging from actions and conversations is interpreted. Laurie is intelligent and smart as he while Charles is evil plays funny to get the parents' attention: ”Look at my thumb. Gee, you are dumb” (page 8, line 17-18). Later the story changes and Charles becomes good: ”Laurie reported grimly at lunch on Thursday of the third week, Charles was so good today the teacher gave him an apple” (page 10, line 20-22). But as Charles turns up to be Laurie he suddenly is a childish and brutal person: ”Charles wanted to color with green crayons so he hit the teacher and she spanked him and said nobody play with play with Charles but everybody did” (page 8, line 21-23).
The interview shows on the other hand clearly the person's identity. Schwarzenegger is determined and result oriented: ”I had a dream that I wanted to be the best body-builder in the world and the most muscular man” (page 13, line 4-5). He repeats himself about feelings: “You must control your emotions …” (page 15, line 6-7) and ”Emotions must not interfere” (page 15, line 19). It's important for him that he has tangible, firm and honest demands - otherwise he may not be himself. This also means that his statements can sometimes be taken as didactically and provokingly: ”I’m trying to make people in aware that they should appreciate what they have here.” (page 14, line 23-24).
The identity thought is the generally essence of both "Charles" and "Call me Arnold". In "Charles" it is an abstract condition when Charles' actions only do not say anything about identity. But if the parents' role is included it makes sense. The parents are engaged at their child's childhood - e.g. shown in connection with the mother's correction of Charles: ”Anything, I said. Didn’t learn anything” (page 7, line 19). On the other hand they cannot realize the facts and see through that Charles doesn't exist even though the mother discovers a difference: ”… my sweet-voiced, nursery-school tot replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character …” (page 7, line 5-6). The message is that a neglected togetherness or upbringing will damage the identity.
In "Call me Arnold" it is about concrete conditions because Schwarzenegger only directly tells about his own story. Furthermore there is a focus on the individual: ”Nobody’s holding you back” (page 14, line 19-20) and ”If you have a dream and it becomes a reality, don’t stay satisfied with it too long” (page 16, line 2-3). The message is that the identity is created by objective, simple and logical observations and considerations with yourself.
The different way of expression, the person development and the communication but about the same theme explains why different genres are founded. Some genres are better in something than others and appeals better to another spectrum of people. This difference that unites texts will cause the interest of reading forever.
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