Although the interview, the personal experience article, and the confession story are largely narrative, they are always told in the first person, whereas the term "narrative article" as used in this classification is applied only to a narrative in the third person. In this respect it is more like the short story. As in the short story so in the narrative article, description of persons, places, and objects involved serves to heighten the effect.
Narrative methods may be employed to present any group of facts that can be arranged in chronological order. A process, for example, may be explained by showing a man or a number of men engaged in the work involved, and by giving each step in the process as though it were an incident in a story. The story of an invention or a discovery may be told from the inception of the idea to its realization. A political situation may be explained by relating the events that led up to it. The workings of some institution, such as an employment office or a juvenile court, may be made clear by telling just what takes place in it on a typical occasion. Historical and biographical material can best be presented in narrative form.
Suspense, rapid action, exciting adventure, vivid description, conversation, and all the other devices of the short story may be introduced into narrative articles to increase the interest and strengthen the impression. Whenever, therefore, material can be given a narrative form it is very desirable to do so. A writer, however, must guard against exaggeration and the use of fictitious details.
Examples of the Narrative Article. How narration with descriptive touches and conversation may be effectively used to explain a new institution like the community kitchen, or the methods of recruiting employed in the army, is shown in the two articles below. The first was taken from the New York World, and the second from the Outlook.
"My mother wants three cents' worth of vegetable soup." "And mine wants enough beef stew for three of us." Two battered tin pails were handed up by small, grimy fingers. Two eager little faces were upturned toward the top of the bright green counter which loomed before them. Two pairs of roguish eyes smiled back at the woman who reached over the counter and took the pails.
"The beef stew will be twelve cents," she said. "It is four cents for each half pint, you know." "I know," answered the youth. "My mother says when she has to buy the meat and all and cook it and put a quarter in the gas meter, it's cheaper to get it here. My father got his breakfast here, too, and it only cost him five cents." "And was he pleased?" asked the woman, carefully lowering the filled pail to the outstretched little hand.
"You bet," chuckled the lad, as he turned and followed the little procession down the length of the room and out through the door on the opposite side.
The woman was Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, jr.
The boy was the son of a 'longshoreman living on "Death Avenue," in close proximity to the newly established People's Kitchen, situated on the southeast corner of Tenth Avenue and West Twentyseventh Street, New York.
So it is here at last—the much talked of, long hoped for, community kitchen.
Within three days after its doors had been opened to the public more than 1,100 persons had availed themselves of its benefits. Within three years, it is promised, the community kitchen will have become national in character. Its possibilities for development are limitless.
Way was blazed for the pioneer kitchen by Edward F. Brown, executive secretary of the New York school lunch committee.
The active power behind the cauldrons of soup, cabbage and frankfurters, beans and rice pudding is vested in Mrs. James A.
Burden, jr., and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, jr.
The evolution of the community kitchen is going to be of interest to every housewife and to every wage earner in all classes of society.
First of all, let it be distinctly understood that the kitchen as inaugurated is not a charity. It is social and philanthropic in character, and it will ultimately reduce the cost of living by almost 50 per cent. This much has been demonstrated already to the extent that the Tenth Avenue kitchen has not only paid expenses, but has so overrun its confines that plans are in preparation for the establishment of other and larger kitchens in rapid succession.
The object is to give to the purchaser the maximum quantity of highest grade food, properly cooked, at minimum cost. This cost includes rent, light, heat, power, interest on investment, depreciation, cost of food materials, labor and supervision. The principle is that of barter and sale on an equitable business basis.
The project as now formulated is to establish for immediate use a small group of public kitchens having one central depot. This depot will be in constant operation throughout the twenty-four hours. Here the food will be prepared and distributed to the smaller kitchens where, by means of steam tables, it can be kept hot and dispensed.
The character of the food to be supplied each district will be chosen with regard to what the population is accustomed to, that which is simple and wholesome, which contains bulk, can be prepared at minimum cost, can be conveniently dispensed and easily carried away.
Opposite a large school building, in a small room that had been at one time a saloon, the kitchen of the century was fitted up and formally opened to the public.
Three long green tables with green painted benches beside them encircle the room on two sides. Their use was manifest the second day after the kitchen was opened.
At 4 o'clock in the morning, from various tenement homes near by, sturdy 'longshoremen and laborers might have been seen plodding silently from their respective homes, careful not to disturb their wives and families, and heading straight for the new kitchen on the corner. From trains running along "Death Avenue" came blackened trainmen after their night's work. They, too, stopped at the corner kitchen. By the time the attendant arrived to unlock the doors forty men were in line waiting for breakfast.
Ten minutes later the three tables were fully occupied.
"Bread, cereal and coffee for five cents!" exclaimed one of the men, pushing the empty tray from him, after draining the last drop of coffee in his mug. "This kitchen's all right." Noon came. The children from the school building trooped in.
"My mamma works in a factory," said one. "I used to get some cakes at a bakery at noontime. Gee! There's raisins in this rice puddin', ain't there?" He carried the saucerful of pudding over to the table.
"Only three cents," he whispered to the little girl beside him. "You better get some, too. That'll leave you two cents for a cup of cocoa." "Ain't it a cinch!" exclaimed the little girl.
Behind the counter the women who had made these things possible smiled happily and dished out pudding, beans and soup with generous impartiality. The daughter of Mrs. Vanderbilt appeared.
"I'm hungry, mother," she cried. "I'll pay for my lunch." "You'll have to serve yourself," was the rejoinder of the busy woman with the tin pail in her hand. "There's a tray at the end of the counter —but don't get in the way." So rich and poor lunched together.
"Oh, but I'm tired!" exclaimed a woman, who, satchel in hand, entered, late in the afternoon, "It's hard to go home and cook after canvassing all day. Will you mind if I eat supper here?" Then the women and children poured in with pails and dishes and pans.
"We're getting used to it now," said one. "It's just like a store, you know, and it saves us a lot of work—" "And expense! My land!" cried another. "Why, my man has only been working half time, and the pennies count when you've got children to feed and clothe. When I go to work by the day it's little that's cooked at home. Now—" She presented a dish as the line moved along. "Beef stew for four," she ordered, "and coffee in this pitcher, here..
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