Wednesday, July 11, 2012

[Short Story] The Half-Brothers by Elizabeth Gaskell

I read this story during few hours when my internet connection was very poor, that I can’t do anything else (browsing, tweeting, emailing), but copying the content of this short story from the bookmarked page of (I don’t know why I succeeded in doing this while having been failed with other sites). Anyway, I started to quick-browse the entire story right away, only to notice that Gaskell (or anyone who re-typed this story for ebook) has written this in long paragraphs, something I really dislike. I lost my reading appetite in an instant, but having nothing more interesting to do, I kept reading while here and there tidying up the paragraphs into moderate ones for more comfortable reading.

Very soon I began to be absorbed within the story, and after finishing it, began to cry….

The story was told in first person by a young man. He retold his story partly from his aunt Fanny and partly from his own experiences. It started when his mother had married her first husband in a very young age, only to be a widow after three years, when his husband left her a child and a farm with no money to support their household. Fortunately there was an old bachelor called Stenton—the owner of a big farm—who would like to marry her and took Gregory (his son) too into his care.

They were soon wed, but it didn’t take a long time for the old bachelor to realize that his wife’s love was never meant to be for him, but for Gregory, her son. This made him disliked and even hated Gregory, and began to ill-treat him at least with words. Then the baby was born, Stenton’s son, who would become the narrator of this story. The mother had not survived long, but before she died, she asked for Gregory to be put besides his half-brother, and for Gregory to take his brother’s hand in his. And from then on this son—the half-brother of Gregory—became everyone’s favorite, while Gregory often received hard words from other, for being awkward and ungainly.

It went on for sixteen years, when on one night the narrator was sent to a Fell (mountain) in an errand. That night turned out to be a stormy and snowy night, and the narrator soon got lost on the Fells. While he was in a desperate state, looking forward to his death, there came a help from—of course—his half brother Gregory, who was accompanied by his spaniel dog. Now, what will happen next—can the two brothers came home safely in the middle of that stormy night? I think—as other short stories—you could guess the ending. But for me, I shed my tears in the middle of my lunch hour—thanks to Elizabeth Gaskell… L

This is the first piece of Gaskell I’ve ever read, and I don’t know whether the short story can reflect her writing style in her more famous novels, but if it does, I can say that there is not something special from Gaskell that can make her stand out from other authors. Her narration flows naturally, but if not for words we have been familiar with 19th century works, I would have thought it was a work from one of modern authors.

The story is quite engaging and touching, and probably was made for shedding tears. What I can learn from it is—and I have read a similar story before—the highest quality of love, which is to keep loving others despite of their bad treatment to us. It also tells us not to ill-treat others, for ill-treatment on child could negatively affect it, which would make the child grow up as an unhappy person. The awkwardness, the indifference came not from stupidity, but from others treatment.

[I read the ebook version from]

This post is included in Short Storieson Wednesday.

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