This Is An Essay Regarding The Theme Of Freedom In Contemporary American Literature, In This Case Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty. The Title Is: A Twist On Freedom. Includes Bibliography.

1299 words - 5 pages

A Twist on Freedom When Gandhi spoke of freedom, he derived it as independence from the British. He fought his whole life for freedom, culminating in his ultimate goal: a free India. While Elmore Leonard's goals were not as lofty in Get Shorty, he expresses the same idea of freedom. The novel's humorous take on Mafia life is the story of Chili Palmer, a loan shark down on his luck. Delving into Chili's hounding of a convict who has taken his money, Get Shorty is a representation of life in the most absurd form possible. Chili's scheme to steal his money backfires, but he becomes richer than he can imagine by making his life into a movie. Similarly, Elmore Leonard has had several of his books made into movies over his career. Although he has no connection to the Mafia, Leonard is still considered to be in the upper echelon of crime writers today. His inspiration for Get Shorty came from his older brother who is similar to the main character: brash, tough, and confident. Many elements are used to show the central theme, but as one critic states, "By the end of a Leonard novel, there are two or three items that really stick out (Hilliard 6)." Thus, in Elmore Leonard's novel Get Shorty, irony, foreshadowing, and conflict are used to develop the central theme of freedom. Irony is shown throughout Get Shorty to present the theme of freedom. One such way is when Fay Devoe, the wife of the man who has cheated Chili of his money states, "I wish he really was dead, the son of a bitch (Leonard 46)." This is ironic in that while the husband fakes his death and lives in splendor for some time, he dies at the end. Throughout the novel, Fay feels trapped by Leo (the husband); thus his death leaves her free. Leo also represents irony when he states, "We're all just trying to make a buck in the world (177)." While it is Chili's job to prevent Leo from taking the money, at the end of the novel Chili too is trying to be financially successful. This is an effort to break the bonds that Mafia life has on him, and with the money he finally finds, he is free. Lastly, the general idea of trying to acquire a small amount of money and coming upon a large quantity is ironic. One such action was when Leo makes over two million dollars while wanting fifty thousand dollars. Similarly, Chili receiving four million dollars for his movie while just hungering for a car is ironic as well. Reviewer Carl Jackson agrees when he states, "several characters use trickery to get what they want--and they usually do (Jackson 1)." Freedom shines through as the constraints of life are shattered, even if for a moment. Thus, irony develops freedom in the novel especially when coupled with revealing parts of the plot early in the novel. Leonard uses foreshadowing as a literary element to represent freedom. One such way is right before the climax, Fay states, "I know something bad is going to happen (Leonard 382)." This is foreshadowing in that the character is used to...

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