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Question: Whatever the story or novel, there's "likely to be some kind of a clock ticking".

Using at
least two of the works in your study, explore how time passing is in some ways important to their
development.
Certainly time passing plays a key role in developing short stories or novels. This is evident through
the study of Edgar Allan Poe's short story 'The Tell Tale Heart', 'Ticking' by Matthew Condon and
through the short story 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' by James Thurber all of which depends on
the concept of time passing to further the development of their stories. The concept of time passing
adds depth and meaning to different parts of the story which would not occur if the time continuum
was stopped.
The concept of time passing is important to the development of Poe's Victorian narrative, 'The Tell
Tale Heart' as it allows us to fully comprehend the motif of the beating heart and allows us to gain
insight into the human condition of arrogance and guilt. Poe's narrator tells his tale in a precise and
complete manner which highlights his obsessive nature which links back to the motif of the beating
heart. "Villains! I shrieked, dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here --It
is the beating of his hideous heart!" The heartbeat is a symbol of guilt, but at the same time, it
represents his own ego as during the story, Poe's murderer has outlined the meticulous nature of
which he has committed the crime. He desires acknowledgement for what he has done and just as
the officers are about to leave, his ego will not allow them. At the same time, it can also be seen as
his conscience or guilt catching up to him, that he has committed a crime and needs to be punished.
If the officers had left at an earlier time or point of story, the narrator would most likely not have
confessed. Therefore it can be seen that time passing is important to Poe's short story 'The Tell Tale
Heart'.
The concept of time passing helps to further the development of Condon's 'Ticking'. Our
understanding of the grandmother is given greater depth through the sequence of time and through
the thoughts of the protagonist. Initially we assume that approaching the end of life is the important
idea however the passing of time and development shift our perspective to understand that the
individual wants to die. Originally we think of the grandmother as some 'loony' due to the setting.
"Its tip (Christmas tree) touched the roof of the visitors' room in the psychiatric ward". However as
time passes the reader learns more of her condition and gradually realises what is happening to her.
The grandmother has suffered this illness for many years and her treatment involves electro shock
therapy. This is seen when the mum says, "It's the shock treatment, love" and when the narrator
says, "My mother had been visiting my grandmother once a week for years. First the nursing home,
then the special home for special people who didn't fit into the nursing home system and now the
psychiatric ward". The concept of time passing also captures the mercurial nature of time and how
some human beings realise their own time is up, yet the body continues to carry them forward,
regardless of their wishes. When the grandmother says "I want to go" we think she means she wants
to go somewhere else i.e. to not stay in the ward, however when she then says "Why can't I die?"
We realise when she said 'go' she meant 'go up' as in die and go to heaven. Therefore it can be seen
that time passing helps develop and provide depth to the short story 'Ticking' by Matthew Condon.
Time passing plays an important role in developing the short story 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'
by James Thurber. The story depicts a man whose extremely mundane life is constantly interrupted
by the character's escapist fantasies. Whereas the fantasy Mitty is not scared of anything, the real
one protests feebly, if at all, at demands that he behave cautiously. Similarly, the admiration
bestowed on Mitty in the fantasies contrasts with much less pleasant interactions with real people -
aside from being ordered around by his wife, Mitty is yelled at by a policeman, a parking lot
attendant and laughed at by a woman who hears him say the words 'Puppy biscuit'. The concept of
time passing is paradoxical to the concept in 'Ticking' as in that story the grandmother wants to end
her life, while in this story Mitty believes his life has gone by and therefore uses his fantasies to
escape reality. The shift in time from reality to fantasy also illustrates the monotony and the
meaningless of his life. This can be seen when Mitty has 5 different day dreams in the space of a few
hours. He dreams that he is: a pilot in a Navy hydroplane, performing surgery on a millionaire
banker, an assassin on trial in court, fighting Germany in the war and finally he imagines he is facing
the firing squad. These fantasies show that due to the concept of time passing he believes his life has
also passed and tries to escape this by avoiding reality. Therefore it can be seen that time passing
helps further develop the story.
As seen above time passing plays a key role in developing short stories or novels. The concept uses
different ways to achieve this such as giving us a greater understanding of motifs and the human
condition, we also gain insight into characters and events which would not happen without the
sequence of time passing.

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