“Red Clay” by Michael Malone

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Cynicism and money motivate the main characters of the story “Red Clay”. Even death which is the episode the story begins with is in the background of the text. Egocentrism blinds the heroes. A man has been murdered. This fact is known from the very beginning. People are discussing the possible killer and consider his wife Stella Doyle to be the one who has shot her husband, Hugh Doyle. According to the author, Stella’s husband “was rich enough to match the looks of Stella Dora” (Malone, 2002). After this, the author describes the weather in August in 1959. The murder case raises excitement and people enjoy the ugly gossip. The atmosphere of the story is unpleasant.

The dead man is only portrayed in a few paragraphs by Michael Malone, but the beauty of the film star Stella is constantly mentioned. Her life and her lilac eyes are what the story is mostly dedicated to. The text is written in the third person. This person is a little boy named Buddy, and he is the son of Clayton Hayes. His father is among the numerous admirers of the beautiful woman with lilac eyes. The opening of the plot seems to be forgotten later and the story jumps through the lives of the characters. Different stories, different times, and different places are depicted in the writer’s literary work. But the story is mainly a narrative about Stella, who is represented from Buddy’s point of view.

There is one detail about Stella that shows her dictatorial nature. This is the moment when Clayton Hayes wants to shake hands with Stella. She takes his hand in her both hands. This kind of handclasp is unusual for a woman and reveals her confidence and will power. She demonstrates it even when she is in court on her way to a gas camera. However, Stella is exculpated. This is the culmination of the story.

The entire plot develops around the situations when people despise and insult Stella. The only man who sincerely believed this woman was Clayton, whose dead and old body is later taken under the red clay. The best character of this short story is buried.

People die and are killed on the pages of this short story, but the only thing that remains unchanged is the beauty of Stella. It is emphasized often, but her spoiled and dark soul is in marked contrast to her beauty. She knows that the one man who had always trusted her was a very good man. Stella thinks that such benevolence is the matter of luck. Apparently, she is not that lucky. Her profanity and her cruel heart are discovered in the concluding part. She has persuaded everyone that her husband committed suicide because he had cancer and that she had lived many years with that suicide in her heart. But the end of the story reveals the truth. He was murdered by Stella, and she did not dare to confess.

The reading of the novel has felt like watching a movie in the cinema. The author gives many details in the description of the weather, the appearance of Stella and all the movements the characters do. There are a lot of dialogues that make the novel dynamic. The diversity of situations leads the readers through a few decades of Stella’s and Buddy’s lives.

The message of the story is the idea that money and beauty do not always create a happy marriage. Life has its own rules and in order to win one has to be amiable, kind and sincere, because the villainous experiences of the past can never lead to a happy ending. 

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