Mark Halliday’s “Young Man on Sixth Avenue”

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“Young Man on Sixth Avenue,” is a quick story written in the year 1995 by Mark Halliday. He presents a younger man of a good and admirable looks, as the protagonist of the story, whose life as a young man is symbolically contrasted with his later length of his life. Mark Halliday effectively uses a short prose fashion and drives the conflict using the young man the use of various styles. He as well selects characters and setting which drives the reader to a sure point of view. All of these elements in the short story are contributing to a number of themes as it will be discussed in the essay. The essay will seek to analyze the plot, one character, the setting and also the point of view in the, “Young Man on Sixth Avenue.”

The structure of the story is linear. There is a chronological plot whereby, the life of the young man is depicted with phases. Halliday starts by the American man who has “handsome” features. His life as a young man starts in the outline and how he used to lure women to like him with dark blue charming eyes which are now no more. Then, Halliday twists the plot in the incidences where the young man starts changing on the seventh avenue and in the denouncement stage of the story, he is seen as a skeleton as the narrator says, “… his shoulders settle close to his skeleton with the truth about these women” (p.493). The conflict that drives the story is based on his life and the climax is obtained at the stage where the young man’s glory is lost and it is no more seen. However, Halliday presents the story with great suspense as the reader is introduced to the life of the young man with nice looks and is curious to know what happens later in the story about the vivid description of the young man at the grounding of the story. All the events that are described in the avenues are primarily developing the dramatic plot of the short story.

Mark Halliday uses characters sparingly. He has one major character, the young American man and then, some minor characters like; John and Judy who have less roles. Halliday presents the young man through the showing method. For example, his features are vividly shown, that is, “his legs were tall, they were bold and dependable as any American machine” (p.492) The readers feel as though they are in the context of the narrator who presents the story. The narration by showing creates the imagery in the readers’ mind of the young man’s status. However, the author does not want the readers to identify themselves with the young man. This is the reason as to why he clothes him with glory at the beginning of the story where he is a strong and handsome man and finally, he makes him a tragic hero and makes him old and nobody wants him at the resolution level of the plot.

The setting applies the elements of place, time and the general environment. The main setting is in Manhattan city avenues where there are a lot of people. However, there are multiple settings, like after post war, in the hospital, and also in the workplace, (p.492). The time that the story is set pre and post the war period beginning from 1938 as the story suggests (p. 493). This setting contributes to the readers’ point of view. As a reader, I can attest to that, changing the setting, maybe from the city avenues to a rural area would change the themes of the story. For instance, the twenty-five years’ young man in the rural areas and luring ladies would mean something different. The background setting in the age of interwar in the western countries and the period of modernism. When the young man behaves as he does at his youth, he regrets at 75 years, for example when he talks about, “those years,” (p. 493), repetitively to show regret during his pseudo present.

The short story is a depiction of the theme of change. The style used is symbolism and contrast where the young man life is contrasted from the youthful stage at twenty-five years to the current age of seventy-five. There is seen to have a change of the shown character in the story. The tone of the narration is satirical as Halliday satirized the youthful looks and perception of life to the changes at old age. However, all of these elements in the story builds the theme of change. Characters are dynamic as well, their character changes, some dies like Judy as the Young man was sixty, (p. 493). The theme of change adds to the meaning of the story. It helps the reader to deduct their view on the changing characterization. At the beginning, for example, the readers’ liked the young man but when his features and characters changes (p.493), the readers never like his identity. The story would however be incomplete without giving a certain message portrayed in the themes.

In conclusion, Mark Halliday’s “Young Man on Sixth Avenue,” effectively applies the plot, characterization and setting. These elements add up to bring out the themes in the story. For instance, there could be no theme of change, youthfulness and old age if Halliday would not have used the characterization, especially the young man. The settings as an element of literature texts is also contributing to how the readers understand and interpret the text. For instance, the setting in the modernism period, that is 20th century, would be different from the enlightenment period and therefore, the setting adds up to the themes and readers’ response or point of view. When the reader derives the point of view, that is, about the characters, setting and also the plot, they are able to relate the message of the story to the real experiences, which is the authors objective. However, though the elements discussed, that is, plot, characterization and the readers point of view are understood independently, they all add up to the thematic concerns of the text.

Work Cited

Halliday, Mark. “Young Man on Sixth Avenue.” Chicago Review 41.4 (1995): 65.

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