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Comparing Narrative in Fiction and Nonfiction

One fictional story and one essay is selected.compare, and contrast how they use narrative. As you do, analyze in what ways and on what topics a fictional narrative may be superior for discussing workplace themes and in which ways and on what a nonfiction narrative may be superior. Make sure you explain why this is the case.

This comparison would be facilitated by selecting works related in some way: works that share a theme, a type of character, a situation, an ethical question, and the like. Be specific in the analysis of story elements. Discuss how essays and fictional stories differ in characterization, plot, story line, suspense, language use, setting, point of view, presentation of theme, and in the integration of other literary elements discussed in this course. As you make these comparisons, consider the following points:
a. What shapes your emotional response to the stories in each work?
b. In a nonfiction work, the author must establish him or herself as credible. What takes the place of this need in fiction? How does this difference in narrative strategies relate to what is communicated about workplace themes?
c. Fiction is often intended to entertain the reader more than is the case in nonfiction. How are narratives used differently for entertainment purposes and for persuasive purposes in essays? How does the element of entertainment in either genre relate to the communication of serious messages about the workplace?
d. How do facts and narrative relate?
e. Consider where the theme of each work is introduced and how explicitly it is unveiled.


Solution Preview

I offer some notes for you to consider as you formulate your own essay.

First of all, as you compare and contrast this fictional story example and the essay, you might demonstrate how I feel that the fictional narrative is more superior for discussing workplace themes because it seems to solicit more emotional responses than the nonfiction narrative does in this case. Although both pieces contain numerous workplace themes and implications, I feel that their emotional impact varies. What do you think?

In the first piece, "A Delicate Balance," I feel that the genre of fiction functions more successful since it intends not only to entertain the reader but also to persuade the reader about workplace issues. Although both pieces share the element of entertainment and both also effectively communicate quite serious messages about the workplace, their emotional appeals are different.

Specifically, I feel that "A Delicate Balance" draws and entertains readers more with the well developed characters, themes, plot, and overall emotional appeal. What do you think?

As we are drawn to the plot, we also learn many lessons. Please note how Armas crafts Romero Estrada's character as almost a Bartleby or a victim of life and work. This character is portrayed as submissive, silent, and subjugated initially as a worker since "He would get up almost every morning and clean and shave, and then after breakfast he would get his broom and go up and down the block sweeping the sidewalks for everyone."

I feel that it seems like Armas is commenting on how monotonous labor is and how devalued workers often are. Since the character "would sweep in front of the Tortilleria America, the Tres Milpas Bar, Barelas' Barbershop, the used furniture store owned by Goldstein, the corner grocery store, the Model Cities office, and the print shop. In the afternoons, he would come back and sit in the barbershop and just watch the people go by," it seems like we are emotionally drawn to him, feeling empathy that his entire identity is linked to his job as a sweeper, not his personality, talents, ...

Solution Summary

Comparing Narrative in Fiction and Nonfiction is achieved in "A Delicate Balance."