Stories are written bearing in mind literary elements such as setting, a point of view, plot, character, theme, tone, symbolism, and others. With various themes presented in short stories, they have played a crucial role in influencing or shaping people’s lives. Some of the common themes presented in short stories include marriage, hatred, love, betrayal, death, conflict, and several others. “It would be Different If” by Maggie Mitchell, is a perfect example of a short story with themes that influence the emotions, behaviors, and lives of readers in one way or the other. Thus, the significance of Mitchell’s short story is that it presents important themes thereby underscoring their importance in literature. Other than themes, the story has characters, which form a crucial part of literature. The story itself has one major character named Nikki who talks about her past experiences with her boyfriend and how they have affected her currently. Undoubtedly, the character is obsessed with her past that has taken over her whole life. She talks to other people about her life, but the primary focus is on her ex-boyfriend named Jeff. The character has strong belief that she will reunite with her boyfriend amidst his current family troubles. Like every other short story, this story presents themes, with the two key themes presented being betrayal and love. It is through these themes that the message of the narrator is passed. Without the themes, the story’s essence, message, or purpose could not have been showcased. As such, it can be argued that every story either short or long must have a theme to convey a message.
One of the themes evident throughout this story is sufferance, particularly when the character says “We’re splitting into groups. I’m standing on the dock, a beer in my hand. I’ve had a little too much to drink already, probably because everything seems very dark, slightly confused” (206). From this passage, the character experiences incessant suffering after turning into a chronic and serious alcoholic, which is because of the breakup with the boyfriend. By presenting this theme, the story passes a clear message and clarifies its purpose to the reader, and therefore it is important for every story to present a theme to readers. Although it is important for stories to present themes as one of the key literary elements, there are myriads of weaknesses or loopholes evident in the way they are presented in short and long stories. First, there are stories that have several themes that either confuse or make it hard for the reader to understand the intended message or purpose. Second, there are stories that do not have clear themes, and therefore, the reader finds it hard to interpret the intended message or purpose. Amidst these weaknesses, the fact that stories must have themes to pass their messages and clarify their purpose to readers remains significant. In this story, the intention is to convey how the narrator was betrayed by her ex-boyfriend and how much she love him. To send this message to the reader, the story presents the two key themes of betrayal and love. Of course, without presenting these themes, the reader would find it hard interpreting the story’s purpose or intention. However, it is impossible for a story to have one literary element as seen in the story “It would be Different If.” This story supports the major theme, which is the key literary element, with other elements such as setting, tone, and point of view.
In addition to themes, the success of any story from a literary perspective is dependent on literary elements such as symbolism, setting, tone, and character. By incorporating several literary elements, it is seen that “It would be different if” is a complete short story from the literary perspective. This story presents a setting, which often which refers to the social milieu in which the events narrated in a story occur. “It would be different if” is a story whose setting can be determined from the scenario where Nikki says “It would be different if we lived in the kind of place where people can disappear, never see each other again” (206). From this statement, it is considered that the setting of the story is in a small town, and like in every other small town, people in Nikki’s town know and run into one another frequently. The fact that she lives in a small town makes her bump into her ex-boyfriend regularly thereby reminding her of the man constantly when she sees him with his wife and children. The story opines that she meets him at the post office or when leaving bars with women other than his wife, which fuels her obsession with him. Whenever Nikki sees Jeff, she is reminded of the pain she felt during their break-up but also gives her hope that she will be with him again at some point in life. Here, the setting as a literary element plays an integral role in passing the message or conveying the purpose of the story to the reader.
The point of view is also a key literary element in the story, and in this story, it is the consciousness of one character. The point of view presented in the story limits or restricts the story to what is known, experienced, or inferred by the first-person narrator. From it, the reader of the story is tied to or restricted to the thoughts, perceptions, as well as a feeling of only a single character while ignoring others. In the real sense, the point of view plays an integral role in conveying the overall meaning or message of the story: waiting or looking forward to someone who may never come back and is already settled and does not involve you in his activities or think about you can prevent you or another person from moving on with life.
In a nutshell, this interpretation of the story “It would be Different If” from a literary perspective is significant as it seeks to highlight how and why the literary element of theme is integral to stories both short and long. The key themes in the story are betrayal, love, and suffering, and all of them play a crucial role in conveying the intended message and purpose of the story to the reader. The story’s author integrates other literary elements including point of view and setting, which support the element of “theme” in conveying the intended message to the readers. The story’s themes are clear and can be easily understood, and this is what makes the story catchy and interesting to readers.
Mitchell, Maggie. “It would be Different If.” 2011.