Spies Revision Cards

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  • Created by: Alicia
  • Created on: 25-10-13 23:13

CHARACTERS - STEPHEN/STEFAN

  • Central protagonist's both boy & older Stephen
  • There's dislocation between identities
  • By returning to his German name he marks division between his adult & childhood selves
  • This is underlined by his unwillingness to recognise aspects of his childhood self
  • Refers to himself as 'heir to Stephen's thoughts'
  • Stefan has less insight into his earlier motivations
  • He renounces this role by referring to his younger self in 3rd person
  • He struggles to remember what Stephen thought about what happened
  • He even says he wouldn't recognise humself in photos if it weren't for name on back
  • It's more as if he were observing seperate person than remembering his own youth
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CHARACTER - STEFAN

  • Narrator's elderly man
  • We find out what has happened to him in later life
  • Dissatisfied with marriage 'was never quite real marriage'
  • Moved to dull sounding job writing technical translations of mechanical installation manuals
  • These jobs - chosen by Frayn to sound unispiring
  • Polytechnic doesn't have intellectual kudos of uni
  • His job as translator suggests he's attentive to detail
  • Translator also needs v. good command of 2 languages
  • It makes it ironic choice of career
  • Technical translator performs useful role
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CHARACTERS - STEPHEN

  • Portrayed sympathetically
  • Much humour in way he shows himself at time
  • Refers to himself as 'undersized boy with teapot ears'
  • His physical appearance led to him being teased
  • Sees troubles with sense of perspective
  • Father says to him 'you've got worse troubles than anyone's ever had before'
  • Constantly held back
  • His fear's 1st characteristic we see
  • 'I'm child again & everythings before me'
  • Checked by Keith's disapproval
  • Strict ideas of social propiety hold him in check
  • Terrified of looking foolish
  • Rarely gives full reign to his feelings
  • Natural response to difficulty of any type's to black it out
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CHARACTERS - KEITH

  • Interaction between Stephen & Keith provides much of dynamic of novel
  • Unpleasant novel
  • Shows off
  • Tries to impress Stephen with his exaggerated claims
  • Enjoys appearing superior to Stephen
  • His playroom's something of treature trove
  • Caned by his father for minor infringements of family's strict regulation
  • Typical study of bullied children
  • Relishes exercising power over Stephen
  • Neither bright nor popular
  • At private prep school
  • Uses Stephen to boost his confidence
  • Manipulates Stephen into looking foolish
  • Can't be impressed by anything Stephen achieves
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CHARACTERS - MRS HAYWARD

  • Appears even-tempered
  • Does little all day
  • Perfect exterior disguises fear
  • Maintains appearance of calm even under extreme duress
  • Must have known likely consequences of Mr Haywards discovery
  • Remains closed book
  • Stephen's feeling about her - confused
  • Sees her as adult
  • Can't cope when her actions cross invisible boundaries of adulthood & childhood
  • His inclination to turn away make it difficult to garner info about her
  • Her diary reveals nothing except day-to-day routine
  • She's careful
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CHARACTERS - BARBARA BERRILL

  • Minor character
  • Talkative
  • Can be manipulative
  • Taunts Stephen with her superior knowledge of what adults get up to
  • Sometimes spiteful
  • Behaviour falls within normal range of childish competitiveness & teasing
  • Open
  • Confident enough to admit she's not smoked
  • Shares info about her friendship
  • Father's away fighting in war
  • Comes to represent to Stephen chaotic wildness, full of promise
  • Counterpoint to Keith
  • Stephen softens to her
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CHARACTERS - STEPHEN'S FAMILY

  • Mother. father & brother feature in narrative set during WW2
  • Stefan's been married twice
  • Mr Wheatley's quietly affectionate
  • His response to Stephen's injury's gentle
  • Seems dull to Stephen
  • Succeeds in giving Stephen ordinary childhood
  • Stephen's mother's rather caricature
  • She defers to Stephen's father
  • Couple & Geoff form 'unsatisfactory family'
  • Seems to Stephen 'there's something so hopelessly ordinary about her it's difficult to take account of her existence'
  • No overlap between Stephen's family in past & present
  • Stefan's family consists of son, daughter & grandchildren
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CHARACTERS - UNCLE PETER

  • 'Absent presence'
  • Idealised
  • Iconic status reflects on Auntie Dee
  • Dependent on Mrs Hayward
  • Distinguished as individual by his professed love for 'Bobs'
  • Uses understatement when describing his plight
  • Unable to bring himself to nlame his wife
  • Desperate wish to leave something for Bob's painful to read
  • Can't anything that'll be meanigful
  • Could be tragic hero
  • His passing goes undiscussed
  • Auntie Dee moves away
  • All trace of Peters expunged
  • Can't be sure how he dies
  • Always present but not always recognised
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CHARACTERS - AUNTIE DEE

  • Never real presence in novel
  • Essence of 'auntness' in Stephen's view
  • Her & Milly - counterpoint to strict family of her sister
  • Presumably unaware of any relationship her sister & her husband may be having
  • Narrator tells us sisters fell out
  • Largely functional role in novel
  • Provides excuse for Mrs Hayward to go up road all time
  • Involved with Mrs Haryward in sending supplies to Peter at Barn
  • Basks in war hero's reflected glory
  • Apparently still loves her husband as she has been seen kissing him
  • Atmosphere's relaxed at her house
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THEMES - WAR

  • WW2 forms backdrop to Spies
  • Provides framework in which action takes place
  • Stephen drops references to propaganda of duty
  • V. dark at night
  • Food scraps - collected in buckets for pigs
  • Building in area's stopped until after war
  • Stefan recalls vapour across sky
  • Neither Stephen nor Keith has parent working in armed forces
  • War's source of excitement
  • Keith creates image of his father as great hero of WW1
  • He exaggerates his fathers involvement in Home Guard as being part of Secret Service
  • It's something else to be included in their games
  • Don't really think about war
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THEMES - CHILDHOOD & MATURITY

  • Gulf between adulthood & childhood difficult
  • For Stepehn adults may as well be different species
  • He finds it inconcievable adults surrounding him were once children with same worries as he has
  • He finds it impossible to imagine Auntie Dee & Mrs Hayward as sisters
  • Idea sisters stay sisters when they grown up's almost incomprehensible to him
  • While Stephen's just beginning to enter adolesence Geoff's token of fully fledged adolesence
  • He's preoccupied with girls
  • He's understood by both children & adults
  • Stephen's beginning to undergo process of changing into afult
  • Noticeable changes takes place in him
  • Finds himself entranced by Barbara
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THEMES - MEMORY

  • Narration of Spies is prompted by unsolicited memory
  • Smell of privet's trigger which leads Stefan to revisit scene of childhood to work out why scent's so evocative for him
  • Sense memories - vivid throughout novel
  • He vividly recreates delights of tea at Keiths house
  • Many vivid details like this help to recreate sense so we can feel it as keenly as Stepehn did
  • These recalled details cover all 5 senses
  • Stephen pieces together memories as though - parts of jigsaw puzzle
  • Pins down events to early summer - apple blossom
  • Stumbles over things he's forgotten
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THEMES - IMAGINATION

  • Driving force action of Spies
  • Orignial premise Mrs Hayward's spy's acknowledged by Stephen as imaginative construct which 2 boys choose to act upon as just latest in string of adventures
  • Does accept words could show intuition
  • Idea Mrs Hayward's spy was effectively invention around which another adventure could be constructed
  • Game of watching Mrs Hayward would be harmless enough
  • Both Keith & Stephen have active imagination
  • Keith comes up with schemes - make him look clever
  • Imagined realities - terrifying for Stephen
  • Most frightening's image of himself in his coffun
  • Imagines German airman collapsing with his parachute
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THEMES - NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE

  • Knowledge's power in Spies
  • Stephen unwittingly gains power over Mrs Hayward by knowledge he garners from his spying activing
  • He's embarrassed by reversal this creates since he leans heavily on social order to give him sense of security
  • Knowledge gives Barbara power over Stephen
  • Her knowledge's superior to Stephen's on many topics including sexual activity
  • It's all more humiliating to Stephen - she's girl
  • He pretends to know things he doesn't in order not to let too much power slip away from him
  • Keith manipulates Stephen by leading him to think khe knows more than Keith does
  • This is another of his methids of keeping Stephen cowed
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CONTEXT

  • Privet's evergreen shrub which bears clusters of small white flowers in late june
  • London bombing begain in summer of 1940 & was over by summer of 1941
  • Date & location not specified
  • Like Keith's house many houses had air raid shelters in their gardens during WW2
  • Mrs Emsley's presence's indication Keiths household wealthier
  • 'Careless talk' refers to series of propaganda posters put up around Britain durin WW2
  • Keith's & Stephen's parents would have lived through 2 wars
  • '2 & 4p' means 2s & 4p
  • Pog pails were encouraged by Ministry of food advertisement
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SOCIAL SETTING

  • Social propiety was more concern in 1940s than it's in modern Britain
  • People were encouraged to 'know their place'
  • People from working families would be unlikely to go to uni
  • Ambition was consequently limited for most people
  • There was no universal free healthcare
  • Wealth was measure of person's success
  • Hierarchy of children in close reflects this strict zoning of society
  • Stephen comments his family occupied 1 only pair of semi-detatched houses
  • To live in detached house was one of most respectable
  • Terraced house was less respectable
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