Evaluation of the Attention and Love of Crime Fiction

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Drawn to Aberration: Why Deviance in Crime Fiction Fascinates the Reader”

There are many reasons to why crime fiction is appealing to those who read it. One of these key reason is the deviance of a character in a crime fiction novel. A deviant character is one who does a certain thing against the standards of his or her society. Therefore, “deviance” doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad behavior, it all depends on a society’s particular norm. The short fiction novels “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates all contain a deviant character. Additionally, the short non-fiction articles “A Taste for Murder: The Curious Case of Crime Fiction” by Rachel Franks and “Why Crime-Thriller Fiction?” by Mark Rubinstein explain why crime fiction appeals to those who read it. Deviant characters in crime fiction fascinate the reader because these characters challenge the norms of a society, give the reader suspense of what they will do next, face a negative consequence that they had probably deserved, and do certain things that can likely occur in reality that lead the readers to question why these things were done. These concepts are supported by these crime fiction article as well as the non-fiction articles.

It is compelling for a character to make a stand for what he or she believes is immoral. This gets the reader’s attention because this type of deviance in a character makes the character stand out and gives the reader something to look forward to in the story. In Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Harrison Bergeron” the deviant character, Harrison, went against society’s norms by taking off the handicapped helmet that he was supposed to wear at all times by the control of Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General of the United States. Harrison Bergeron had lived in a society where everyone was equal by the forces of the anarchy in which they had lived in. As the author put it: “Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody is better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. (Vonnegut Jr.)” Unfortunately, Harrison was killed by the Handicapped General herself for attempting to challenge her authority. Likewise, in Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian”, the deviant character, Leonard Mead, enjoys taking long walks during the night, which is considered to be deviant in the society that he lives in since everyone is expected to be in their homes at night. The voice of a police car, who stopped Leonard on the street, considered his activity suspicious and abnormal. The voice asked Leonard questions such as “Why are you walking?” and “Walking where? For what? (Bradbury)” After the police voice told him to get into the car, Mead resisted at first, stating that he did nothing wrong. This is vivid evidence of Leonard challenging the norms of his society because he feels that what he did was harmless although it was viewed as crime in his society. Overall, the reader will anticipate the actions of a deviant character fighting against the norms of an adverse society.

Secondly, the reader develops a sense of uncertainty for the future actions that a deviant character will do. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, the story’s most deviant character, Arnold Friend, was attempting to lure the protagonist, Connie, out of her house and into his car. As Connie resisted, Arnold began to appear menacing to her and Connie started to feel nervous. The tension of the passage and suspense of the reader grew larger throughout the conversation between the frightened Connie and the intimidating Arnold. Evidence of this growing tension can be observed particularly after Arnold says to Connie: “Soon as you touch the phone I don’t need to keep my promise and can come inside. You won’t want that. (Oates)” This leads the reader to anticipate what Arnold will do or say next. This short fiction story, as Rachel Franks stated in “A Taste for Murder: The Curious Case of Crime Fiction” is one that will “make us hold our breath until the very last page. (Franks)” In general, the reader feels suspense for what a deviant character will do in the future in relation to what the character is doing in the present.

In addition, the reader anticipates a misfortune of a deviant character. In the crime fiction article, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, consists of Bailey and his deviant mother, who is referred to as the “grandmother.” The grandmother displays very tenacious and racist behavior, behavior divergent of an elderly woman. For example, she vulgarly refers to a young black child as a “nigger boy” when she tells a story to her family during a family road trip (O’Connor). A racist grandmother is a deviant grandmother, one that expresses abnormal and unusual behavior. Additionally, she makes her son drive to a house that she assumes is in Georgia but is actually in Tennessee and she does not inform those in the car. Soon after, Bailey crashes the car and during the aftermath of the accident, the grandmother spots a passing car and successfully attracts the attention of those who were in the car. Beforehand, after the accident had occurred, it is revealed that the grandmother was “hoping she was injured so that Bailey’s wrath would not come down on her all at once. (O’Connor)” This proves the deviance of the grandmother because she would rather experience physical pain than to have her son be upset at her. It turns that an escaped murderer, known as “The Misfit”, and his two henchmen were in the car and they ended up killing all of the members of the family, including the grandmother. To sum it up, the grandmother was the cause of her family’s death. With a deviant character like the grandmother, the reader would anticipate that something unfortunate would happen to her, only because it is what she had probably deserved. Overall, the reader anticipates the misfortune for a deviant character, one that the grandmother encountered.

Lastly, deviant characters in crime fiction commit crimes that are common in reality, ones that are often reported on news stations and likely to draw the attention of those about to hear about it, mainly because these potential viewers want to learn more about why a crime was committed. Oftentimes, there are stories and news reports about homicides, similar to the ones that the Misfit as his two henchmen committed in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” and the reader gets to learn about the deviant Misfit and why he chooses to commit murder. After reading this short story, the reader learns that The Misfit is obstinate and peevish, especially from the ending quote: “Shut up, Bobby Lee, it’s no real pleasure in life. (O’Connor)” It is also revealed to the reader the things he used to do prior to his murderous life. Shortly afterward, the reader learns The Misfit’s thought process after he states: “I found out that crime don’t matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you’re going to forgot what it was you done and just be punished for it. (O’Connor)” The reader than understands why The Misfit commits crimes with no remorse, similar to how people want to understand more about why criminals in real life commit the murders that they do. Additionally, in the non-fiction article “Why Crime-Thriller Fiction?” the author Mark Rubinstein relates crime fiction to crime in reality, claiming that crime fiction is “gripping because the events they describe could actually occur. (Rubenstein)” This quote relates to the idea of the reader wanting to learn why a fictional criminal committed a certain realistic crime, the same way he or she would want to learn why a real life criminal committed a crime.

Crime fiction is appealing to its readers for various reasons. One key reason is because of the deviant characters that are found in crime fiction stories. A deviant character does certain actions that are against the norms of his or her society. These actions aren’t necessarily good nor bad, it just depends on the society in which these action are done and how these actions are viewed in the society. The popular crime fiction novels “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates all contain at least one deviant character. Moreover, the short non-fiction articles “A Taste for Murder: The Curious Case of Crime Fiction” by Rachel Franks and “Why Crime-Thriller Fiction?” by Mark Rubinstein help in explaining why crime fiction appeals to its readers. Deviant characters in crime fiction fascinate the reader because these characters challenge a society’s norms, give the reader suspense of what they will do in the future, face a negative consequence that they had probably deserved, and do certain actions highly likely to occur in reality that lead the readers to question why these things were done. These concepts are clearly supported by the crime fiction articles and the non-fiction articles as well.

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