Spies - Themes
Theme 1: Imagination
Imagination is the driving force behind Spies and it is closely tied to memory. The whole story is based upon the two boys' perception that Mrs Hayward is a spy but this is a figment of their imagination which they choose to act upon. The older Stephen describes Keith's belief that his mother is a spy as 'a blind leap of pure fantasy'. However, he does recognise that Keith's belief could be based upon intuition because his mother does indeed have something to hide.
Both Keith and Stephen have active imaginations but they are active in different ways:
- Keith come up with schemes and explanations that may him look clever.
- Stephen's imagination is so vivid that he forsees what might be the consequences of actions. These consequences are often completely terrifying for Stephen. The most frightening is his vision of himself in a coffin. However, the whole narrative has lots of small, imagined scenarios - he sees Uncle Peter's death ('the passing trains cutting him to pieces'), he imagines Mrs Hayward sending Morse code messages and Uncle Peter coming home to find Auntie Dee has been arrested as a spy. Sometimes the imagined scenarios are presented in the same voice as the real story so we don't know that they aren't real until later ('She's a German spy" I explain. No I don't say the words. Do I?". This blurs the…