Carla Carter works in a school as a dinner assistant. She doesnt mind her job, though she is very self conscious and wary about her job.
She starts writing to a Polish teacher named Steve, which the headmaster gave her the address for. He loves writing poetry and tells her about a bird who flew down a mine shaft and could find its way out.
A few months later he visits the school, making Carla very wary of her job, as she hasnt told him that she is not a teacher herself.
When he arrives, he doesnt mind that she didnt tell him, only pleased to see a familiar face. They sing a polish song, helping carla to find her identity and be less wary about herself and her job.
It is in present tense and first person, which makes it seem like you are involved in the story rather than just being told it.
Many on the sentences are short making it seem like Carla is a nervy person, very on edge. Also, it makes her seem abrupt, like she isnt a very sociable person - shown in the story by the way that Valerie is portrayed and speaks to her in contrast to Steve.
I wear a uniform...I like the kids (line 1-4) - Informal, shows that she doesnt need formality in her job, she doesnt mind what people think of her. Implies she doesnt like the adults as much as the kids as she doesnt mention the teachers. Explains who she thinks she is and will be for the rest of her life. "shovel" - masculine word, doesnt care about what she does, its just a job to her.
"I am half-Polish...Then my father put a stop to it (line 13-15) - Short sentences make it matter of fact and to the point. It is very abrupt, like she is anti-sociable and doesnt talk much to others. It is as if it is a painful subject for her. Maybe that is when she lost her identity - she doesnt remember who she should be.
Teachers are used to getting out of the way of the catering staff without really seeing them (line 27-28) - Shows a lack of identity, like she veiws herself as invisible, doesnt wat to be noticed by anyone. How she thinks she is veiwed - just one of the catering staff, they clear up, they serve food and are not one of the "important" members of staff in a school.
Key Quotes 2
I didnt write anything...I wasnt lying (line 53-54) - Matter of fact and abrupt to show that she didnt give it much thought. Not secure about her job and who she is to everyone around her.
The first poem he sent...no one could find it (line 55-58) - Poem is special to her - its the first one he sent. Shows how she is stuck in her job with nobody knowing the real her, also her identity seems lost to her as she cant find the way out of the metaphorical "mine shaft" aka job. She feels like she is lost to everyone and nobody will ever see the side of her that is the real her.
I could be off sick...I could say Jade was ill (line 108-109) - Shows her insecurities about her job,who she wants Steve to believe she is and who she actually is.She has self esteem issues that she wants to overcome by lying to Steve and pretending to be someone shes not. She isnt secure with her job and who she is. It's a matter of pride and confidence in herself, which breaks when she finds out about Steves visit and doesnt know what he will say.
Key Quotes 3
'No,' I said, 'It's not. Excuse me' (line 150) - Gains confidence once she sees Steve. Seeing how alone Steve looks makes her stand up for herself and him and go over to him, even though she is terrified of what he will think.
His red tie...'I like your tie' (line 173-175) - Tie is a symbol for hope and identity. He wears it with pride and doesnt care what others think, and once Carla finds her identity at the end she doesnt either. She realises who she is and that Steve is only happy to have a friend in such a foreign place.
Bird in the coal mine - Carla - she feels like she is stuck in the job that she doesnt want. She can't find her way out and doesnt know who she really is. Tried to make people listen and help her to find who she is, but nobody helped so she doesnt know who she is.
Tie - Hope - of Steve and Carla, that one day they will find themselves and know who they are.
I hope this helped :) please comment, i'll be doing more so need tips!!