straight down the line

Words, Plots, Darkness, and Who-knows-what

After reading The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Shadow, and Debris, there are very similar characteristics between the three. Most of the time, the characters hardly say anything at all, and when they do their speech is very basic, limited to small words and phrases. There are a few instances in The Postman Always Rings Twice when a character will go on a monologue, but even then the sentences are generally very basic. Therefore, most of the story happens outside the dialogue. In The Shadow, the reader/listener will have to imagine what is happening and what the scene looks like, but in the other two the important parts of the scene are painstakingly explained using the same simplistic language. Anything not essential to the plot is left out. Speaking of the plot, it is also not always linear. In The Shadow, the storyline jumps around, with a scene at the beginning that isn’t explained until the end, and another flashback in the middle. Debris doesn’t have any flashbacks, but there are occasional time lapses that aren’t always clear. One minute its nighttime, and the next its a couple days later. The Postman Always Rings Twice has less plot jumps, but it is similar to Debris with breaks in the writing.

Another major theme is ambiguity. In Debris, Emily shoots the person she thought was a killer, but there was no definitive proof that he did it. In The Postman Always Rings Twice Frank was definitely the mastermind behind Nick’s death and the cover up, but the accident that killed Cora was truly an accident. While he didn’t get caught for the murder he committed, he did get caught for the one he didn’t commit. Likewise, in The Shadow it wasn’t clear until the end who was the killer. The shadow conveniently gave all the answers at the end, but if he knew all the answers, why did he let the killer kill someone (even if he did deserve it)? Along with ambiguity, the theme of darkness is inseparable from these stories. In The Shadow the events take place at night (besides which, the shadow himself connotes darkness). The Emily kills Campbell in the “small hours before dawn” which is proverbially the darkest part of the night. Frank and Cora also kill Nick at night, although their first attempt was thwarted by the darkness brought on by the power outage. Therefore, what binds these three stories together are simplistic writing, breaks in the plot line, ambiguity, and darkness.

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