Sunday, November 13, 2005

Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives:
A Response

D. Bowden

As in her novel, Q.E.D., Gertrude Stein’s external reality does not seem to depend on detail in her novel Three Lives. There is a similar structure in all three stories of Three Lives, which include: presentation of the character, something of the character’s present, something of the character’s past, introduction to the character’s acquaintances and family members, observation of the character in a few quickly developed situations, and finally conclusion with the death of the character.

There is a difference between the three stories, however, “The Good Anna” and “The Gentle Lena” are more similar in that they illustrate the mundane, everyday incidents of common life, while “Melanctha” contains mainly movements of passion. All three stories of Three Lives illustrate Stein’s belief of psychological determinism by assigning inherited characteristic traits to her characters that make up their personality, which in turn determines their actions and behavior patterns.

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