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STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES:

CLASSIC LITERATURE ANALYSIS

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Reports & Essays: Literature - Novels

"AND""OR"

The Child By Tiger
by Thomas Wolfe The story, "The Child By Tiger" written by Thomas Wolfe, is primarily interpretive literature, not escape literature. "Escape literature" is written purely for pleasure, while "interpretive literature" is written for pleasure and to help us understand the world around us. Interpretive literature educates, asks questions about life and presents some aspects of life that we may not want to face. "The Child by Tiger" is interpretive literature because of the way the author presents the story, the way it ends, the way it educates us, and especially how it helps us understand man's darker nature. This work is interpretive rather than escape literature because of the way the author presents the story. Thomas Wolfe has the protagonist looking back on the events that occurred twenty-five years earlier. Even though he has had a very long time to reflect on them, he is looking back in the hope that he can make some sense out of it all. The author uses this situation to his advantage. On the second page of the story where the author writes, "He had, he said, only recently received his discharge from the Army", shows that the protagonist is second guessing what Dick Prosser had said. This reflective outlook is a good position from which to teach the audience. The reader learns about death the same way as the protagonist. This is an ideal way to catch the attention of the audience and to educate them at the same time as the protagonist, which is a characteristic of interpretive literature. Another reason this story is interpretive is the way it ends. In "The Most Dangerous Game," which is an example of escape literature, the reader is left with a playful ending and has the opportunity to decide if Rainsford becomes the hunter or if he just leaves. No such ending is left in "The Child by Tiger." In addition, the story does not end with the death of Dick Prosser. The author wants to impart a sense of the after-shock on the reader and introduces characters who brag about being part of the hunt, and the fact that Prosser underlined a particular portion of the Bible indicated that the act was premeditated and that Prosser knew that he would soon be "walking through the valley of death". This real-life facet is a trait of interpretive literature. Since most escape literature has a happy ending and this does not, is additional proof that this is not escape literature. Most importantly the story is interpretive because the author is trying to help us understand man's darker side. From time to time we read about someone "flipping out" and killing a bunch of people. It happened recently in Dunblane, Scotland, and in Oklahoma City. When we ask ourselves why something like this happened, we are unable to answer. In our story, a young man of 30 goes insane and kills about 10 people. The author does not try to justify the act. What he does do is try to shed a little light on one of these situations. This illumination is the educative aspect of interpretive literature. Another example of the educative aspect of interpretive literature is shown when the boys find the gun. Dick Prosser makes a secret pact with them. He promises to take them out to shoot it if they don't tell anyone about it. The boys agree and in so doing they form a bond with Prosser. This act is a lesson about man's "darker" side and how it allows him to use his friendship to keep from getting caught. This teaching process is a trait of interpretive literature. The next example of man's darker side is the end of Dick Prosser's life. After Dick had expended all of his ammo, he threw away his gun, sat down and removed his shoes. At this point there was no reason to kill him. The townspeople could have captured him and brought him into town. Instead, they shot him and even after he was dead, continued to shoot him; they shot him 300 times. This is morbid but it shows man's darker side. Laurence Perrine, in Story and Structure, states that interpretive literature "helps us understand our troubles." In "The Child by Tiger" we are trying to understand the troubles of mankind. "The Child by Tiger" by Thomas Wolfe, is interpretive literature because of the way it is presented, the way it ends, and what it teaches about man's darker side.

"For complete summary and analysis of literary works, please visit NovelGuide.com

 



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