The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of The Whole Town’s Sleeping. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
The Whole Town’s Sleeping, written by Ray Bradbury, and The Landlady, by Roald Dahl, are two short stories that have many facts in common; including the setting, the plot and the main characters. The first one narrates the story of a small town where a woman is strangled every month or so by a serial killer.
One evening, a group of friends find the dead body of a girl from the town. From then on, the girls become obsessed with the idea of the killer going after them. On the other hand, Dahl’s story describes how a man arrives to a town (Bath) late at night and is “pulled” in by a notice on a window into a Bed and Breakfast.
The woman in charge of the place does not seem too weird, but even though the protagonist does not notice anything strange, the reader becomes aware of the old woman’s immoral intentions.
The main common aspects are that they are both tales based on fear and apprehension, as well as having opened endings. The setting, the plot and the attitude of the characters are going to be analysed having as an aim, the need to create tension. One of the main parts of a story is the setting. Both of these stories have two different major settings where the plot takes place.
In The Whole Town’s Sleeping, which takes place in Illinois, the first place you first meet is Lavinia’s home. There, she feels secure and comfortable. “Home. Oh safe at home. Safe, safe and safe at home! ” (The Whole Town’s Sleeping, 56). This fragment of the short story is of great importance because it explains Lavinia’s personal feelings towards her home, which later will turn out to be wrong. However, the other main setting where most of the story takes place in is outdoors. The story happens an evening when the main characters have decided to go to the cinema. Outside it’s cold and dark.
To get to the cinema they have to go through a scary ravine. “They stood upon the edge of the ravine that cut the town in two. Behind them were lighted houses and faint radio music; ahead was deepness, moistness, fireflies and dark. ” (The Whole Town’s Sleeping, 38). This passage full of imagery, it illustrates the unpleasing look of the appearing place of the narrow valley. The ravine is the place where the dead bodies of the victims of the serial killer are found, which makes it even a scarier place. The Landlady also has two principal settings. The story begins in Bath, where a young businessman has arrived.
Outside, “the air was deadly cold and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on the cheeks” (The Landlady, 80). This section of the book shows the protagonist’s need to find a comfortable place to stay for the night. After looking around town he finds a Bed and Breakfast, which in this story stands out for being the set where most of the plot happens. It is a comfortable house with a fire warming up the living room. “In front of the fire, a pretty little dachshund was curled up asleep (… ) The room itself, so far as he could see in the half-darkness, was filled with pleasant furniture” (The Landlady, 81).
This passage explains how the protagonist sees the Bed and Breakfast as a great place to stay because of its appearance, which does not come out to be a great idea. Concerning the setting, both stories are quite similar. Both of them have a place where the protagonists feel most secure in (Lavinia’s house, and the Bed and Breakfast respectively), however, as the story flows, they will turn out to be not as safe as they looked like. When writing the plot of these stories, both authors had one aim in mind; to create tension. However, they turned out to achieve their aim by different means.
The Whole Town’s Sleeping plot consists mainly on a series of continuous “mini-climaxes”, thought of to create a steady tension around the fear of being attacked by the strangler. “The Lonely One might follow us and kill” (The Whole Town’s Sleeping, 38). The quotation clearly shows the fright that the women experiment. On the other hand, The Landlady works in a different way. Even though it also creates the reader to become nervous and tense, the author uses little hints throughout the story, which will turn out to be related and predestine the young protagonist to his own fate. “He’s still here. (Mr. Mulholland). “Mr. Temple is also here. They’re on the third floor, both of them together” (The Landlady, 89). This quote shows how the old lady is giving hints to the young man about the danger he is in, however, he does not get the message. Despite the fact that the authors of these two short stories used different techniques to achieve the same aim, they both decided to give the same type of conclusion to the two of them; an opened ending. An opened ending is a story, which does not have a resolution. The last aspect of the stories to be analysed are the characters’ thoughts.
Bradbury’s story has Lavinia as its protagonist. Francine and Helen are two friends of her in their thirties too. Lavinia is an adventure seeker. She thinks life is boring and has to be spiced up. Going through the ravine on her own, the narrator gets into the protagonist’s mind and the reader is able to feel empathy. “”There, there! ” she screamed to herself. “At the bottom of the steps. A man under the light! No, now he’s gone! He was waiting there! “” (The Whole Town’s Sleeping, 53). The quotation shown makes the reader understand Lavinia’s distress while “being followed” by a stranger.
The Landlady is made up of two main characters; Billy Weaver, a young businessman and protagonist of the story, and the old lady owning the Bed and Breakfast. This time the author does not go through the characters’ thoughts, however, it is obvious that Billy being seventeen years old is not mature enough and he is blindly guided by his misjudgements. “She seemed terribly nice” (The Landlady, 83). By making this first-sight judgement, he has “prearranged” his friendship with the old lady. Once that he trusts her, the old lady has to do something truly bad, for him to end up his confidence on her.
As he says, briskness is the common characteristic of all successful businessmen, which probably makes him very vulnerable at the time of taking decisions. Though, they are quite different when the time of expressing the protagonist’s feelings comes, these two stories do appear quite alike in the aspect of their characters if looking at how they are “used” in each story. Both narrations have an evil person who tries to harm these protagonists without any apparent reason for doing so. Although two stories may look different at first sight, they surely have common aspects, which can be compared to find similitudes.
In the case of The Whole Town’s Sleeping and The Landlady, they are very similar stories that can be compared very easily. This occasion, the features contrasted were the setting, the plot and the main characters’ attitude of the short stories. Every time we were able to find at least one common point between the two stories to make them look alike, which means that they are quite similar. They both have a similar setting where the tale takes place, they have comparable plots with the same type of ending, and they have pretty related major characters, in the way they are chased by evil.