Spies - Character of Stephen (the main protagonist)
Remember that Stephen is the young boy who becomes Stefan, the older narrator.
Stephen is protrayed sympathetically but not sentimentally by his older self. There is much humour in the way that Stefan shows himself as a child - he invites us to laugh gently at him but at the same time to engage with his traumas and inner struggles. He refers to himself as the 'undersized boy with the teapot ears ... open-mouthed and credulous'. His physical appearance led to him being teased by his friends and now even his older self is teasing him.
1) Stephen is AFRAID and ANXIOUS
His fear is the first characteristic that we see. In the very first paragragh, the narrator says "I am a child again and everything's before me - all the frightening, half-understood promise of life." Stephen is constantly afraid of looking foolish or acting inappropriately and this is made worse by Keith's disapproval of him. He is afraid of being teased or bullied and this limits his actions. In Chapter 5, he asks "Which is worse ... to be embarrassed or to be killed?"
He keeps his emotions to himself and only really shows them when he is beside himself with terror or grief. His natural response to difficulty of any type is to block it out, ignore it or run away from it. EXAMPLE: Unable to think what to do with the silk scarf, he decides to hide it and rid himself of the situation.
EXAMPLE: Another example of his anxiety and fear is his terror of germs. He is afraid of germs from the slime in the tunnel, from the man in the Barns, from the cigarette that Barbara picks up and from the blade of the bayonet. He thinks there is a link between Germans and germs because they sound similar and both are undesirable and so he fears germs from the hidden 'German'.
2) Stephen is PAINFULLY SHY and considers himself to be SOCIALLY INFERIOR
Stephen is very aware that his family is socially inferior…