stephan/ stefan wheatley


stephen/stefan wheatley

  • main protagonist
  • he is the perfect protaganist as he is looking back on his childhood so he can talk on an adult's perspective
  • there is a gap between stephen and mordern day stefan as stephen can't remember what it is like to be a child
  • he describes himself as 'heir to Stephen's thoughts.'
  • word analysis ='heir' as he is detached from the role
  • he plays the role of a detached observer as a narrator 'i sholdn't have the slightest idea what Stephen Wheatley looks like if it weren't for the snaps, or ever guess that he and i were related if it weren't for the name written on the back.'
  • As an adult Stefan is very ordinary and does not stand out but as he was a child he had this inquisative mind that allowed the reader and him to have this child-like intrigue that allows the reader to get into the book
  • quotes '1 dont suppose you've ever read the English-language installation and maintainence manuals for Siemens transformers and high-voltage switchgear...' 
  • 'i say nothing... but my heart sinks.'/'We sit it out in silence, our eyes on the ground.' this quote foreshadows the difficulty the elder Stefan has in expressing his views and interpretations of his past.
  • n.b stephen is simply a memory from stefan's memory
  • stephen is presented as an insignificant child the quotes are also shown to be NEGATIVE as well'undersized boy with teapot ears... open-mouthed and credulous' word level=undersized and teapot ears 
  • he is keiths inferior
  • stephen's relationships are mainly built on or around anxiety which allows him to become kind of a 'disciple' to keith
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mrs hayward

  • A pivotal character in the novel
  • Distant and mysterious('Mrs Hayward' or 'mother'
  • overwhelming impression of her is one of perfection
  • unusual activity noticed by the boys
  • beaten by a 'bayonet' by mr hayward
  • she is emotionally and physically affected by her predicament
  • towards the end when stephen realises what mrs hayward has been doing he then begins to realise how hard it has been
  • what she gives him is sex and food 
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mr hayward

  • masculine 'working' he is always working on his property with very high standards 'FOR EVER DIGGING AND DUNGING, AND TRIMMING AND PRUNING, FOR EVER UNDERCOATING AND PAINTING, AND WIRING AND REWIRING'
  • he is a clear bully and likes to keep his house 'well ordered'
  • he beats both his wife as she wears a 'PALE BLUE SILK CRAVAT' and beats keith 'YOU KNOW WHAT OU'RE GOING TO GET OLD BEAN'
  • he keeps his family a lot like prisoners as he must walk mrs hayward everywhere with the obvious exception
  • we as the reader sees mr hayward as someone who is trapped in a loveless marriage and the car is a metaphor for their marriage as they can't drive the car anywhere
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uncle peter

  • very ambigous character who is supposedly absent flying bombing missions over germany 
  • he is actually the mysterious man in the barns
  • he is a typical war hero ( not there at the moment and great reputation when he comes home as shown in the book)
  • affair with mrs hayward
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barbara berrill

  • adds humour to the novel as well as showing a new side to stephen as barbara teaches him to smoke and it results in a kiss
  • we also see a cheaky side to her as she is always mocking keith and stephen as they play their games
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  • It is very dark at night (blackout)
  • One area they play in is the ruins of a bombed house
  • Keith's father is in the Home Guard and attends weekly drill
  • Stefan recalls search lights and flares
  • it creates a sense of excitement for the children and they do not see a real danger from being bombed by the Germans and keith continues to portray his dad as a war hero after stabbing 5 germans
  • Uncle peter is clearly scared of war and he cannot come out of hiding as he will be shot for being a traitor
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  • 'for a moment im a child again and everything's before me- all the frightening, half-understood promise of life.'  this shows that frayn is looking back on his childhood from an adult perspective so there will be some blur to what he remebers and he wont quite be able to see what it was like for young stephen as his memories will be blurred
  • stefan does go into detail into the book and what has happened in the past but he does remeber how he was dominated by keith and was perhaps bullied into doing whatever keith wanted to do
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  • remeber that stefan is old as it is only revealed late in the book that stephan is german and so he becomes stefan and stefan tells the story of the book as the narrator
  • childhood through the eyes of an adult looks quite innocent but as we see when they begin to spy on mrs hayward and reveal her secrets we see that they perhaps are stepping over some boundaries
  • they are mocked by barbara berrill for playing games but they seem to do it anyway as keith wants to do it
  • as stephen is only a young child he sees the world through an innocent percspective 
  • the book shows stephen growing to be more mature as he kisses and smokes in the book with barbara berrill and a metaphor for this useed in the book is 'FROM THAT NIGHT ON I WAS IN A DIFFERENT CORRIDOR OF MY LIFE. A DOOR HAS CLOSED BEHIND ME, AND I NEVER OPENED IT AGAIN'
  • DOOR suggests the closing of childhood 
  • CORRIDOR suggests on a path to maturity 
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  • as the book progresses we see stephen as a child who is simply trying to impress keith and to play games with keith and hes is also bossed around easily by keith
  • as they begin to spy on mrs hayward they realise something is up and stephen starts to notice barbara berrill 
  • the coming of age is represented when he kisses and smokes with barbara berrill which is stuff that his older brother is doing in the book with girls
  • when mrs hayward comes to stephen it is another example of stephen coming of age as she sees him as someone who she can turn to for advice
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  • adulthood is shown to be confusing for the children as they begin to spy and follow around mrs hayward 
  • they see her going form place to place and she seems to never stop in their eyes 
  • mr hayward seems to the children as someone who never stops and is always maintaing his pride and joy which is his house and property.
  • as stephen becomes more matture during the book he is able to speak to adults more on their level e.g. mrs hayward
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