“Uneasy Homecoming” by Will F Jenkins is a short story that has the effect of a particularly tense atmosphere. The story is about a woman named Connie returning to an empty house after a two-week holiday.
When she arrives home she had developed a nervous feeling. While Connie was on holiday some burglaries had taken place. Later Connie finds the loot in her home and uses quick thinking to attract people’s attention from the other side of the bay who then catch the burglar.
In this short story the setting is particularly important in creating a tense atmosphere. He shows this by describing many things about how the house was isolated such as “the house lay on the neck of land beyond most houses”. This creates the impression of a tense atmosphere because Connie is alone, far from any other houses, which means that there was not anybody close to her if she needed any help.
The time of day is also very important in “Uneasy Homecoming”. The writer deliberately sets the short story at night with a ”red dying sun”, a sign of danger in the air and the perfect setting for a horror book or movie. In the story he writes “The red, dying sun cast long shadows across the road”. This is important because it put a picture in my mind of an evening with a fading sun and unusual shaped shadows that seem to move creating a tense atmosphere.
Throughout the “Uneasy Homecoming” the main character played a very important part in creating a tense atmosphere. The main character, Connie, developed a sense of fear about man hunting women. The writer develops this character by writing such things as “the unnerving realisation that the fears she’d had about Them, the men who prey on others”. This phrase in particular shows that Connie is a worried, insecure person who frets about becoming a victim of “Them”. The capital letter is there to show the importance Connie gives these people.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Lockport, New York. She started writing very young and that the age of fifteen she submitted her first novel, but it was rejected for being 'too dark'; . This style of writing is common on many of her works including 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?' ; Oates graduated from Syracuse University and then went on ...
I also noticed that throughout “Uneasy Homecoming” Connie does not hold back in expressing her fear. Many times in the short story the writer shows expression such as “Connie found herself weeping”. This made me think that something was about to happen. I also felt sorry for her at times and think that the tension in the story would be totally different if her husband, Tom, had arrived home first as woman are more vulnerable to darkness and predators than women.
Another positive point about the story is the sentence structure and paragraphing. Throughout the story most sentences are short, slowing down the reader and therefore emphasizing the slowness of the action. “There was a soft sound at the back door. It squeaked”. This is an example of a short sentence and short paragraph, these keep the reader on the edge of their seat. When the reader does come to a large paragraph it gives a long, vivid, description.
An effective technique that W.F. Jenkins uses is in the short story he allows the reader to know more than the main character and that she might be in danger. For example, ”she had looked straight at the back door without seeing what there was to be seen”. This kind of phrase gives me a feeling to urge Connie to safety.
In my opinion the best part of the short story is the hunt. The hunt is the part of the story where the burglar patrolling the house looking for Connie. Connie just narrowly escapes. During the hunt Connie is terrified, many points are made about her fear such as “She felt that she would lie down at any instant and scream”. It is remarks such as these that created a tense atmosphere throughout the hunt.
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Another technique the writer uses is noises in the story or lack of them. Continuously throughout the story one particular noise is mentioned, “the hum of the refrigerator”. This noise creates a tense atmosphere because it is the only sound Connie can hear if this is then interrupted something or someone must be in the house.
Earlier I mentioned the story being set in darkness, “her feeling of terror was simply that it was dark and she was alone”. This shows that darkness is against her and she cannot overcome the enemy. However the tables are turned at the end of the story when Connie uses darkness to catch the burglar, “She hid herself in the shadows”. Connie also used the darkness to attract the attention of people on the other side of the bay to the flames of the burning motorbike.
In conclusion the writer uses various techniques to create a tense atmosphere in the story. Although the writer created a very entertaining tense atmosphere, the ending was not nerve wracking enough compared to the other nail biting moments in the story. If the burglar had found Connie, I feel that it would have been a better ending. Overall I would give congratulations to W.F. Jenkins for the creation of a suspend-filled story of an uneasy feeling.