The difference between novel and short story

The difference between novel and short story
Otieno Vilma Akinyi
The term novel is mainly derived from the Italian word ‘novella’, which is word that
was originally used in the description of small or anything considered new. After which, the
term evolved to meaning a short prose story, until it acquired the representation of novel as it
is known currently. Therefore, essentially, the short stories are perceived as the predecessors
of the current novels, and even though this portrays that they share certain similarities, they
also have certain significant differences. Hence, the paper seeks to assess the differences
between the novels and short story using the White Veil from Grace Ogot’s anthology and
Ngugi’s Petals of Blood.
There are numerous similarities between novels and short story, which includes the
fact that both are written in prose form, have distinctive themes, and depict conflicting
interest, the primary difference between them is attributed to their lengths. The length of the
novels differs substantially from that of a short story in that, a short story is expected to be
able to effectively narrate the story in less than 7 000 words whereas a novel exceeds 50 000
words and in certain cases the number of words in a novel can reach 100 000. Hence, the
White Veil can be read in one sitting due to its short length unlike the Petal of Blood that
would require days to read.
Another fundamental difference is based on the plot and characters in the story. The
short story features a far less complex plot as compared to a novel, which also necessitates
fewer characters. Typically, a short story would deal with one incident at a particular time
and focuses basically on the creation of mood and atmosphere. In the White Veil, the plot is
developed following the chronological structure. The implication is that the first presented
them in the story develops the next theme to be presented. For instance, Grace uses the theme
of betrayal or deception in that, Owila betrays Achola when he neglects, he since she refuses
to sleep with him when it is something they both agreed to do after marriage. This results in
Owila abandoning Achola and leaves for Filomena. The next theme presented in the story is
developed from the first one, that is the theme of religion, which depicts the religious
influence that cause Achola to disregard Owila’s desired despite the fact that she loves him.
The theme of love also takes root from the disappointment that Owila received from Achola
and seek for love elsewhere. On the other hand, the novel is more intricate, dealing with a
chain of closely connected events, involving more characters and more settings. Ngugi uses
numerous characters in his novel, Petal of Blood to present the story and the characters are
intertwined unlike in the White Veil that has direct and less characters. Also, the themes used
in the Petal of Blood are complex and arrays from corruption, capitalism, land to education.
Thus, while short stories can develop various themes from one central idea, novels develop
an assortment of themes that are not interconnected.
Another difference is in the resolution and exposition. In the longer forms of
narratives, such as novels, stories begin with the exposition, an introduction to the plot. This
is often done to attract the interest and attention of the writers. However, aspects of the story
after the introduction gets complicated as the characters deepen and the plot thickens, until
the conflict reaches the climax and a resolution is established. In the petal of blood, it begins
with the description of the four characters, thsat is Karega, Munira, Wanja, and Abdulla,
following the revolution that their famous Kenyan have been killed in a fire, however the net
chapter moves back in the novel’s timeline mainly focusing on Munira’s move to Ilmorog, to
start working as a teacher. On the other hand, in the short stories, the dramatic structure is
different. Most short stories do not include the exposition and start the narrative from the
middle of the story, cutting straight to the chase. Often, the short story would have sudden
beginning and ab abrupt endings rather than of a meaningful resolution, focusing mainly on
describing one event and creating a certain emotion, instead of answering the questions and
resolving issues. For instance, the White Veil is mainly focused on Achola refusal to sleep
with Owila, and the story is developed on this minor misunderstanding.
In summary, novels and short story have certain distinctions and similarities in how
they are written and their complexity. Similarities includes that they both have certain
attributes of conflicts, themes and narrative pose. However, they differ in terms of their plot
and characters, exposition and resolution, and the length as described in the paper using
Ogot’s short story White Veil and Ngugi’s novel The Petal of Blood.

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