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Irony in Ballard’s Chronopolis

Irony in J. G. Ballard’s Chronopolis

J. G. Ballard gives us a good idea of the irony in ‘Chronopolis’ from the very beginning – the actual name ‘Chronopolis’ – city of time – is an ironic name for a city that has no time Throughout the story Ballard’s view of time acts as a focus to the story, around which the plot revolves. The central point of the story is a world without time, without which the story would have no point – none of it would have happened, and it would be just like our world.

The impression of time we are given at the beginning of the story is an ironic one, because it seems that time is important, but not really understood; we are told that Newman is in prison for understanding time – yet while he is in prison he controls the situation because of his knowledge of time, and organises the events of the day for Brocken (the block sergeant); ‘Brocken… relied on Newman to programme the day for him’. The fact that Newman is ‘serving time’ for being obsessed with time is the first instance of irony through language that we are given in Chronopolis. This again brings our attention to the irony of Ballard’s view of time, and provokes the reader to look more deeply into the text, thus discovering more about the way time works in the world of Chronopolis.

At this point we do not learn any more about what happens to Newman, but instead the story has a flashback to when he was a child, and became interested in time. In this way the story is anachronistic – it is not in chronological order, and instead it switches between different points in time. This brings our attention to the way time works in ‘Chronopolis’. Due to the fact that they have no time, their world is muddled up, and thinks have no real order – and this is reflected in the way Ballard writes the story.

We are then told the story of Newman’s childhood, and the way he slowly discovers time and gains an interest in it. Next we are told by Stacey (Newman’s English teacher) why time is against the law:

‘You can time [someone], know exactly how long it takes him to do something… then you can make him do it faster.

Comparing Tradition and Change in Amy Tan’s The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Joy Luck Club

Tradition and Change in The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Joy Luck Club

Throughout the novels The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Joy Luck Club, author Amy Tan conveys the message of tradition and change. Each novel contains sections about mothers talking and relating their stories to their daughters. The daughters in The Joy Luck Club hear stories about loss and happiness, and joy and hate. Each of the four mothers tell these stories to their daughters as lessons, or offerings for their futures. They tell the stories to show how lucky their daughters have been, yet how their lives will never be the same as their own lives have been. They try to help their daughters on some level with these stories. Yet they comprehend the fact that they could never understand their mothers. The main character, Pearl, in The Kitchen God’s Wife talks about her life and her mother. Pearl, and her mother Winnie, the other half of the mother/daughter pair attend a funeral as Pearl narrates. They then go to Winnie’s home, as Winnie dotes on Pearl and her two daughters. Pearl’s heart breaks as she notices all the small intricacies of her mother, and all the little things that her mother does to illustrate her love. As Pearl and her family drive away from her mother’s house, Winnie begins to narrate, to her daughter about her life, her hardships, and her loves. Through these two novels, the five mother/daughter pairs and the perception of mother to daughter, the theme of mother daughter relationships is distinctly portrayed.

Pearl views her mother in many different ways. Often, through her mother’s movements, or appearance, she will view her mother as fragile, yet strong and knowing, “…I imagine my mother’s parchment like skin, furious…

… middle of paper …

…ire. “Amy Tan.” The Bloomsbury Guide to Womens Literature. Pg1065 Great Britian: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1992.

Cheng, Scarlet. “Amy Tan Redux.” Belles Letters. Fall, 1991, pp 15, 19.(on GaleNet)

Davidson, Cathy N. and Linda Wagner-Matlin. “Amy Tan.” The Oxford Companion to Womens Writing in the United States. Pg 869. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Graham, Judith. “Amy Tan.” Current Biography Yearbook. pg559 New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1992.

See, Carolyn. “Drowning in America, Starving for China.” in Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 12, 1989, pp1, 11.(on GaleNet)

Shear, Walter. “Generational Differences and the Diaspora in The Joy Luck Club.” in Critique. Volume 34, No3, Spring 1993 pp 193-99.(on GaleNet)

Willard, Nancy. “Tiger Spirits.” in The Women’s Review of Books. Vol.6, Nos. 10-11, July 1989, pg12.(on GaleNet)

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