Mr M S Ndlovu

Analysis 1. The man hood The Author The author: John Wain• John Wain (1925) • John Wain, born in Stroke-on-Trent in the north of England, is both a poet and a novelist and a short-story writer. He was also a lecturer in English literature at Reading University from 1949-55. Wain is a prolific writer and has produced four volumes of poetry, six novels, and two collections of short stories as well as works of criticism and an autobiography. His stories are generally concerned with ordinary people faced with the problems and decisions that make everyday life so complex. Manhood” written by John Wain, a well-known novelist and a distinguished poet. John Wain is a realistic writer, aware of the social problems and the social conflicts of today.The Man hood was published: 1980 as a single short story Background & Setting: *The story is set in a rural part of England in the Willison home. *The events take place over 12 to 18 months. *The story start with the father (Mr Willison) and Son (Rob) on a bicycle ride from the woodland into the open country. The story continues at Mr and Mrs Willison’s house Language/Style: The story is told in third person narrator (omniscient) *Dialogue reveals the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and reasons for acting the way they do. *Colloquial language helps the reader identify with the characters. (“To hell with Baroness Summer skill! ”, “All right”) Plot *The plot revolves around Mr Willison’s obsession with developing Rob’s physique and masculinity. He trains Rob for the boxing tournament. The story builds to a climax as the readers along with Mr Willison, believe Rob is training for the tournament. Brief summary of plot:The story deals with the awkward relationship between a father and his son. The father is very ambitious. He wants to make a good athlete from his son because when he was young he had to study, for fear of unemployment. He never had the chance to box or to row; he didn’t even get a bicycle. And he doesn’t want his son to grow up with the same wretched physical heritage that he grew up with. That’s why he doesn’t want him to rest for too long on his cycling tour. The son has to try to break his fatigue barrier. The reason for the cycling tour was to give the installer the time to fix up a present Mr.Willison bought for his son: a punch-ball. When they get home, the son, Rob, goes to his room, because his tired. At this point the mother starts protesting because she thinks that it’s unhealthy for a young boy to do such things. When Rob, at the age of 14, doesn’t get in to the football-team, his father is very disappointed. But when he tells him that he did get in the boxing-team, his father is happy again. When the father brings this up to the mother, she’s says she doesn’t want Rob to fight because it’s too dangerous: it could damage his brains.But finally they agree that Rob can go boxing, but he has to stop after the tournament. So they start to train together. But the day of the tournament, Rob gets ill: he has pain in his side and thinks he has appendicitis. Then the father calls Rob’s coach: Mr. Granger, but he doesn’t know of anything: Rob’s school doesn’t go in for boxing. Mr Willison learns that Rob has lied to him. Themes: *Father-son relationships *Identity development *Parenting *The effect of low self-esteem *Masculinity and society’s expectations of men The main theme, as the title indicates, is masculinity.The story shows the length to which people can be driven to live up to what they think the standard of being a man should be. Mr. Willison is insensitive and this is conveyed by the image of Rob lying on the grass, “his legs thin and white among the rich grass”. This suggests that Rob could never be muscular and he is not happy about it. He calls his son a pet. Mr Willison has inferiority complex about his own physique that he manipulates his son to become what he never became. Mr Willison is obsessed about standard of what being a man is.The consequences of Mr Willison’s obsession with “manliness” are serious. Rob resorts to dishonesty and the family becomes seriously divided. Theme: Influence of society on a family, what society requires, communication barrier between the parents and between the parents and son. Statement I remember: The first thing any athlete has to learn is to break the fatigue barrier. My evaluation: The story perfectly describes how pushy parents can be. And how children feeling to be under pressure then tends to lie to make their parents happy.But a good family should discuss problems and find solutions together Characters: Rob Willison – fourteen-year-old boy, problems with heart, not so strong and ambitious like his father would wish, but he tries to satisfy him and be a good son despite his own desires, passive, resigned, and pretends he is in the boxing team. Mr. Willison – very ambitious, wants to give to his son all he hadn? t as a child, frustrated, strict, and insensitive. He is plump, of average height and flat-chested, lacks self-esteem, Rob’s father inferiority complex, obsessed with masculinity.He is a demanding father who wants his son to be what he wants. Mrs. Willison – Grace Willison – Rob’s mother, disagrees with her husband regarding Rob’s upbringing, is protective of Rob, and is concerned about his health and well-being. Worried about health of her son, doesn? t want to have an athlete from Rob, she wants just healthy and smart child, over-protective 1. The Relatives Background ; Setting: *Actual story set on return train journey from Hutchison Station to Johannesburg. *Story within the story set on journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Language: First person narrator – author/protagonist speaks of own experiences which adds authenticity. *Style of writing is lively, personal and chatty. *Writer uses long sentences and short sentences for particular effects. *Language fits characters (Marina, a nurse, tells him to come and see her in the morning, as if speaking to a patient). *Personal touch in use of Afrikaans words like “oupa”. Plot/ Summary Most of the story is structure around the narrator’s train journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg. There is a very short story within the main story. The plot has two ‘twists’.The first occurs when the narrator’s three friendly travelling companions get off the train and he is left alone with the two delinquents. The narrator, who came to know through his style of telling the story and the way on which he relates to the other characters, He comes across a chatty and having a sense of humour, especially about his young self. He sees the family ties and roots important. In his way back to Johannesburg he meets five people in the compartment. Two bothers in khaki clothes and three companions, who hooked him in their conversation.He tells them a story of George Abrahams who claims that he once killed a man in a train. He tells them how he detected how he thinks George Abrahams was lying and may be a way to warn him to stay away of his luggage. The fact that George was slapped by his wife and said nothing was a proof. He sends his three companions to laughter except the two boys in khaki. He also has a sense of sadness and tragedy of life. This comes out at the end of story when he writes about the death of two of his cousins in gang revenge incidents. The narrator meets the two brothers in a train compartment on the way to Johannesburg.They are wearing khaki clothes which indicate that they are delinquents from reformatory. They are unsmiling and unfriendly. When his three friendly companions get off the train the two brothers spread themselves and their possessions carelessly all over the compartment. They carelessly, without the regard to the narrator speak about gang revenge. The narrator realises that they are gangsters and probably enjoy scaring him. One of them show human side when he claims that they are related. They went on to become professional gangsters.Three years later the narrator read of their death during a gang revenge incident. Characters: *Chris van Wyk – aspirant writer at 21 *Two unfriendly brothers – “delinquents’, threatening, vengeful, gangsters, turn out to be distant family of the narrator. *Three friendly men on train – draw him out with stories * George Abrahams- the man who claims to have killed a man in a train. * George Abrahams- Who claps her husband at the train station. Themes: *Memories *Family bonds *Fears, real and imaginary *The importance of family ties – the writer devotes quite a bit of attention to family and roots.The narrator had planned for his first novel to be a family saga and to write it he decided to return to his roots in Carnarvon. He describes his relatives there and family sagas they related to him in detail. The story ends with him and his two travelling companions- the two young men from the reformatory- realising that they are related to another. *The tragedy of gangsterism – comes through strongly towards end of story. The narrator hears the two delinquents talking about violent revenge of the death of their gangster brother. He is relieved when he realise that they are related.However three years later he reads the news paper that the two brothers had been murdered in a gang revenge incident. He ends the story on note of sadness that is was a waste of young lives. … ” tragedy futility” of all and” they have never reached twenty – one”. Symbols: *Narrator’s notebook – he wrote some of the family sagas and made notes for this story. *The train itself – this symbolises a journey in the narrator’s life in terms of an experience that made him think about life and provided material for his novel and for this story. *The graves of the three brothers symbolise the tragedy of gangsterism and the waste of young lives. |

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