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The Richer The Poorer

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"The Richer, The Poorer"
What is a short story? “A short story is a work of fiction that develops a single idea” (Dowling Central, n.d.). Dorothy West, an author of many short stories, has entertained and taught many lessons throughout her writings. This paper will discuss West’s short story, “The Richer, The Poorer.” In addition, this paper will examine the entertainment value of this story as it relates to the lesson it teaches to the reader by discussing the literary elements found in “The Richer, The Poorer.”
The first element that this paper will discuss is the plot. “The plot shows how a conflict, or struggle, develops and is settled” (Dowling Central, n.d.). In “The Richer, The Poorer,” the conflicts are internal and external. For example, the exposition of this short story explains the lifestyles and desires of the characters. Bess is the type of person that “lived each day as if there were no other” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 1996, 106). She did not see the urgency in the lifestyle that Lottie wanted her to live. On the other hand, Lottie pushed experience aside because she did not want to live her life “skimping and scraping” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 106). Many events happened in “The Richer, The Poorer” that shows the human against environment conflict. For example, Lottie’s work environment changed. Her boss’s son took over the company and saw no need in keeping her on the job; therefore, Lottie retired at the age of sixty. She sought new employment but was unsuccessful. The work environment evolved into new technology. Lottie, unqualified, could not compete with the younger, more capable applicants. At this point, the plot climaxed. Lottie did not know what to do with her life. She faced another conflict, human against herself. After offering Bess a place to live, Lottie had to renovate a spare bedroom. This means that she would have to spend her hard earned money. Once she completed the renovation, she was pleased with the results and wanted to renovate the rest of the house. As a result, the character reached a resolution. She realized that she missed experiences in life. She no longer wanted to live that lifestyle and realized that Bess’s lifestyle was not sorry after all.
Another literary element is character. West uses a direct presentation to describe the characters of “The Richer, The Poorer.” Direct presentation is the author telling the reader by exposition the features of the characters. For example, “Lottie had a bank account that had never grown lean” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 1996, 106). This excerpt explains that Lottie was determined to save her money. On the other hand, “Bess had the clothes on her back, and the rest of her worldly possessions in a battered suitcase” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 106). This statement explains the difference between Lottie and Bess. Bess did not worry about her future wealth. She was concerned with the present. West also showed the character types of Lottie and Bess. Lottie was dynamic character. Her way of life changed at the end of the story. “I know I’m too old to kick up my heels, but I’m going to let you show me how” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 1996, 110). However, Bess remained the same throughout the story. As a result, West characterized Bess as a static character, one that remains the same.
Theme is also a literary element in “The Richer, The Poorer.” The theme is “its central insight, concept, or controlling idea” (Jackson Dade Schools, n.d.). The thematic message of this story is the richness of experience. Money is not the meaning of wealth. It is not the meaning of life either.
Point of View, a literary element, “refers to the way a story is told, the perspective or angle of vision or position from which the events are narrated for the reader” (Jackson Dade Schools, n.d.). The narrator chose to tell this story using the third person point of view and uses the pronouns she and her to talk about the characters. For example, “She would let Bess have her room, but the mattress was so lumpy, the carpet so worn, the curtains so threadbare that Lottie’s conscience pricked her” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 1996, 108).
Style is another literary element found in “The Richer, The Poorer.” Sentence structure, diction, and tone are types of style. “Sentence structure refers to the general pattern of sentence forms used by a writer” (Jackson Dade Schools, n.d.). In this story, West uses complicated sentences structures. She also used figurative language for imagery. For example, “They were often in rags and never in riches” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 1996, 107). The writer uses this metaphor to explain the marriage of Bess. Another example is Lottie, trapped by the blood tie, knew she not only have to send for her sister, but take her in when she returned” (LaRocco & Coughlin, 108). This statement explained the relationship between Lottie and Bess. The second type of style, diction, “refers to the writer’s choice of words” (Jackson Dade Schools). West uses an informal style of writing by using contractions, such as, it’s, I’ll, and that’s. The third style, tone, “refers to the emotional feel a work has for the reader” (Jackson Dade Schools). In this story, the tone is irony. Although Lottie thought that her sister was not living a prosperous life, she later learned that she was wrong.
In conclusion, this paper has discussed the literary elements of the short story, “The Richer, The Poorer.” In addition, this paper has also discussed the literary values of this story by analyzing the plot, characters, theme, point of view, and style elements.

Dowling Central (n.d.). Mrs. Dowling's Short Stories. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from
Jackson Dade Schools (n.d.). Lecture on Literary Analysis. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from
LaRocco, C., & Coughlin, J. (1996). The Art of Work An Anthology of Workplace Literature. Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western Educational Publishing.


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