“The Murder” by John Steinbeck tells a story of a man named Jim and his wife Jelka. They live on a farm, and their relationship is described as being strange and distant. As Jim is unable to find a true partner in his wife, he leaves the house to meet another women at the local town establishment. Jelka is described as a beautiful and attentive wife who can predict Jim’s wishes.
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The story ends when Jim finds his wife with her cousin together, kills the man with his rifle, and then beats Jelka, after which she cooks him breakfast as if nothing has happened. “An Error in Chemistry” by William Faulkner centers on a man who kills his wife and calls the sheriff to admit his deed. After he is taken to jail, he amazingly escapes.
No one is aware of his whereabouts, and the sheriff, as well as the town people, are dealing with an old man who has locked himself in a room and does not come out. Everything goes according to the murderer’s plan until the moment when he collects the insurance and sells the land. He is then discovered to be impersonating the old man while the real father of his wife was killed (Hillerman, 2001).
Both of these stories are filled with mystery, and the reader is left wondering until the very end. In “The Murder” by John Steinbeck, the plot is left unspecified and there are no details that can lead to anything to be understood by the reader. The way Jelka is described cannot be linked to anything in the story as her character is rather strange, even to her husband Jim.
The references that are made to the farm and the calf are not revealing any plot details, but seem to confuse even more. The mysterious nature of the story comes to light when Jim decides to leave and Jelka is knitting, as it is unclear why she is acting in such a strange way, and the discovery that Jim makes proves the irregular nature of her actions.
William Faulkner’s “An Error in Chemistry” has a plot that is filled with mystery. The reader cannot imagine any possibility of how the murderer got out of jail and why he wanted to go there in the first place. The sheriff contemplates why he would want to admit the murder, instead of quietly and quickly escaping. The mysterious nature of events makes one wonder as to how the plot will unravel and what will be the ending, which greatly adds to the mystery of the story.
In the end, the mystery is discovered, but the effect that the story makes is still strong, through the illustration of deception. The stories belong in the mystery genre as there are many questions that are unanswered to the very end. They might be considered criminal or detective stories since both involve murders and somewhat of an investigation.
The key to any mystery story is to make sure that the readers are unaware of the truth, thus creating a plot that does not become clear until the ending phrases. Both authors have shown that they have intricate knowledge of human mind and are able to create twists unexpected to the reader. Even after finishing the stories, some details stay undiscovered, which greatly adds to the mysterious effect.
Hillerman, T. (2001). The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.