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Referat: Truman Capote: A Diamond Guitar

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Truman Capote: A Diamond Guitar

Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1924. He began writing short stories at the age of 14. He was not very interested in school, so he left at the age of 15. His early work were influ-enced clearly by his southern roots. His first novel "Other Voices, Other Rooms" was published in 1948. But the turning point was the publication of "Breakfast at Tiffany's". For the non-fiction novel "In Cold Blood - A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences", he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He died in 1986. The short story "A Diamond Guitar" was written in 1950.
The setting is a prison farm in the middle of a forest, far away from the next town. It is the temporary home for about 200 criminals . In each of the 2 sleep houses , one stove is installed. So the mostly feared men lie closely to the stove. One of them is Mr. Schaeffer, a 50-year-old man who passed the last 17 years in that prison. His first name is never mentioned , and he is one of three men who can read. He is respected by the others and does not have any friends. But whenever a letter arrives a prisoner, he brings it to Schaeffer who reads it for him. As many letters contain sad and complaining messages, Mr. Schaeffer improvises more cheerful contents . That's the reason why even one of the prisoners who can read brings his letters to Schaeffer. He was sentenced to 99 years and one day because he killed a man. It is not mentioned why he killed him, but it is said that he had to die for what he had done. Schaeffer does not seem to have friends , because he gets no letters.
One day, a new prisoner arrives at the prison farm. It's an 18-year-old boy named Tico Feo from Cuba, who was arrested because he had cut off the ears of two sailors. He is carrying a guitar studded with glass diamonds. In the evening, he's playing some cuban songs for the men in the sleep house. They all begin to dance and try to sing the lyrics. From that day on, everyone could not wait until the time between dinner and lights out, because Tico then pulls out his guitar and begins to play. During his little concerts, all the men are happy and feel free. But afterwards, there was a deeper sadness as before.
Since the day Tico came to the prison, Schaeffer felt his loneliness. He and Tico become friends and spend every minute together. One day , during their pause from work in the forests, Tico offers Schaeffer to escape with him from the farm. Schaeffer (verneinen) mentioning the fact that he is too old . But Tico keeps talking about the escape and the time they would have afterwards. Another day, Tico starts again talking about an escape. He says that they could follow the river, so their traces would not be (verfolgbar). This time, Schaeffer nervously agrees and the day after, Tico gets up in the morning and tunes his guitar while the other prepare for going to work, as if he wants to say good-bye to it. As they are in the forest, Tico gives the signal "Time out" for the guard, goes behind a tree and begins to run to the creek , which is close to their position. Schaeffer follows him as fast as he can. They reach the creek, jump into the water and follow its (Verlauf). Suddenly, Schaeffer (stolpert) against a log laying across the creek, breaks his ankle and hits the ground. Tico throws a look back and continues running. When the guards find Schaeffer, he still is laying in the (seicht) water staring at the sky. The Captain of the prison announces that Schaeffer tried to prevent the escape , and his picture is printed in the newspaper. He now owns Tico's guitar and lets nobody touch it. Three years later, another newcomer arrives at the prison. He can play on a guitar, but the first and only time he plays Tico's guitar, Schaeffer is disappointed of his play because it doesn't sound like Tico. So he takes the guitar, puts it under his bed and keeps it secure.
In general, the story is told from the point-of-view of an omniscient narrator . But when Schaeffer steps on the scene, the viewpoint moves a little towards Schaeffers inner life . At the beginning, Schaeffer is described physically and neutral . The difference between the styles of narration becomes clear at the climax, when Schaeffer (stolpert) and breaks his ankle. His (Wahrnehmung) and thoughts are described very detailled and intensively. The narrator's tone is neutral and objective , even when he talks about Schaeffer's moved emotions. Another indicator for this simplicity is the structure of the story. The main part of the story is a big flashback of the happening that lay 3 years in the past. The story has to be seen as an excerpt of Schaeffers life and how it changed in only a few days.
To the analysis: As said, the story is about Schaeffer. He's an outsider. Capote often wrote about outsiders or lonely persons who, in hard times , meet a bizarre character. In this story, Schaeffer, a lonely prisoner who had done only one mistake in his entire life , meets Tico, a young, healthy and innovative boy. Tico is full of life and, how Schaeffer often thought "has to grow up", which means that he stands at the beginning of his life . Tico doesn't seem to worry about anything. He fears work, but loves his music, fun and the good things in life. The persons that Capote's characters meet often represent a hidden side or the secret wishes of his heros. And Schaeffer spent his last 17 years in prison and can't even remember the time before he came there. His life was fading away and pushed him into loneliness. Tico represents his hunger for the lost life, for the lost years in prison. When they become friends, Schaeffer tastes a bit of the life he had forgotten. But in the moment he (stolpern) over the log, he loses Tico and his life with him. He realizes that he's 50 and that he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail. All his hopes , his (euphorie) are gone and will never come back. That's what the other guitar player in the end stands for. He doesn't play the same, and Tico won't come back. The only thing that reminds Schaeffer of this great time is the guitar with the diamonds , which slowly become yellow. In some nights, his hand reaches out for the guitar, and he feels the world again . I guess the aim of the story is to show how easily life can fade away and how fast the time goes by. And , I think, it wants to show that life is precious and should be enjoyed.

My opinion:
• two persons, one character
• details
• suspense
Englischreferat über das Werk "A Diamond Guitar" von Truman Capote.
(Biographie des Autors, Zusammenfassung, Opinion) (1200 Wörter)
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