Mystery And Detective Genre Elements Essay

1855 words - 8 pages

The various elements in the stories “Man of the crowd” by Edgar Allan Poe and “In a Gove” by Akutagawa Ryunosuke place them within the mystery and/or detective fiction genres. The usual mystery or detective stories use suspense and tension to build up to the resolution of the puzzle that is present within the plot (Turco 58). Detective stories typically involves “following a detective through the solution of a crime” (Baker, Frye and Perkins, 140). The “Man of the crowd” and “In a Grove” does not have suspense or tension. In both stories the mystery or puzzle is not solved in the end, and the identity of the detective is not even known. Thus, they do not neatly fit within the typical conventions of the mystery or detective genres. Instead, the structure of the story itself - narration and organization of these stories - contribute to the pervading sense of mystery in the story through multiple narratives and foreshadowing, and the reader becomes the detective figure that is left to ponder about the solution to unsolved puzzle in the narrative. That is the underlying theme that all the stories in the mystery and/or detective genre share – a mystery.
The narration itself in Poe’s “The Man of the Crowd” is saturated with mystery. The first paragraph of the text already speaks of a puzzle which is an unintelligible book, and people with untold secrets (220). This beginning paragraph of Poe’s story already foreshadows the ending of the story, where the narrator concludes that he will not be able to learn anything about the old man, much like a book that cannot be read (234). Fink also thinks that this is a foreshadowing, as he states in his article that this paragraph’s description of “people who, metaphorically, cannot be ‘read’… foreshadows [Poe’s] characterization of the Man of the Crowd” (25). Since the narration is in first person, the reader is limited to what the narrator sees and what he understands. At the end when the reader is left with an unresolved mystery by the narrator, he or she cannot access any information that the narrator did not have and therefore cannot solve the mystery. The way that the reader in a typical detective novel follows a detective solving a crime is mimicked by the manner the reader also follows the narrator in his pursuit of a man that he cannot read. In his article, Fink states the old man is “indeed inscrutable” and he also adds that Poe’s narrators are “notoriously unreliable” (28), which further contributes to the mystery in the story because if the narrator is unreliable, then any information that the reader gets from him cannot be trusted. Unreliable information cannot be used to solve a puzzle, and is part of the reason why the mystery is left unexplained. The narration in Akutagawa’s “In a Grove” has multiple narrators that tell of the events in the story. It is also in first person, which is typically unreliable because it is from the point of view of a character that may project their own opinions into...

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