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Essay On "The Knife Thrower"

1094 words - 5 pages

Essay on ”The Knife Thrower”

To make a choice is easy, but to make the right one can sometimes be very difficult. To speak one’s mind and stand up to your opinion can also be tough, especially when in a large crowd, but sometimes this is the most important time for doing so. In Steven Millhauser’s short story, “The Knife Thrower”, the ambiguity of the narrator’s view on the knife thrower’s act is really drawn out and exposed in the spotlight, very unlike the knife thrower’s act itself which is very mystical and sort of hidden in the shadows.

“The Knife Thrower” - the name says it all, but at the same time it tells us nothing about the text. The story is very secretive and does a ...view middle of the document...

The story must therefore be told in a first person plural perspective. But even though there are several narrators, they all share the same point of view. Everyone is scared of what’s gonna happen to the girls who are brought up on to the stage, but at the same time they all crave the drama and the excitement of entertainment. Also the fact that the narrators are aware of that Hensch has a tendency to cross the line at his shows, they still go because they want to see if the mysterious rumors are true. In the knife throwers performance, he executes five throws. And for everytime he completes a throw, the audience’s view on him, and their attitude towards his show, changes. Before the second throw the feelings, that are expressed are mostly just curiosity and doubt, but after the second throw it changes. It changes to disappointment. The reason for this is that they had all expected to see him cross the line, like in all the rumors, but at this point he has only hit three rings and nailed a butterfly to the partition. The audience needs more excitement, which they are given with the third throw. When Hensch uses his assistant as a target, the crowd is pleased, but deep down they know that what they want is wrong. When the first girl, Susan Parker, is brought to the stage, the doubt in the audience is once again very clear. But at the same time Hensch has proven himself worthy of their trust. “We wanted to cry out: sit down! You don’t have to do this! But we remained silent, respectful.” (p. 2, ll. 74-75) This tells us that, even though they think the right things, their need for the thrilling experience outshines doing the right thing. After this throw, the fourth throw, many people in the audience are ready to be marked by the master. But when Laura is chosen a deep silence fills the tent in which we are located. The doubt begins to spread, but again, no one dare to say anything, people are just wrestling with their thoughts, and as it was before the need for drama wins. In this section the sentences are very long and complex...

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