Sunday, July 15, 2018

Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing --- Analysis

The short story "Through the Tunnel" by Doris Lessing told about the young English boy, Jerry, who came with his mother for a summer vacation to the sea abroad. The author described in the first paragraph these two people: the mother walked on in front of the boy, carrying a bright-striped bag and the boy who stopped at turning off the path and looked down at a wild and rocky bay.

Next morning Jerry asked his mother to permit him to go and have a look at the rocks there. She agreed. He was an only child, eleven years old, she was a widow. She thought that he mustn't feel he ought to be with her.

Jerry went down to the rock, he jumped into the sea, he was a good swimmer. He dived and when he appeared on the surface, he noticed a group of boys. They spoke a language which he didn't understand. He very much wanted to be with them. He was so glad to see that one boy noticed him and smiled. They shouted cheerfully at him and when they understood that he was a foreigner they proceeded to ignore him. Jerry was happy to be with them.

Next time Jerry saw one boy dived into the water and didn't come up. Jerry yelled in warning, the other boys looked at him idly and turned their eyes back toward the water. After a long time, the boy came up on the other side of a rock and shouted triumphantly. The other boys followed the example of the fellow, and Jerry understood that they swam through the tunnel in the rock.

The idea of going through the tunnel intrigued Jerry. He had passed several classes at a diving school. He thought he must learn to control his breathing. He counted the time being underwater, Jerry exercised his lungs as if it was the goal of his whole life. At night, the boy dreamed of the water-filled cave in the rock. His nose was bleeding.

He continued training. The boys made a pause while he counted a hundred and sixty. He thought that now if he tried, he could get through that long tunnel, but he was not going to try yet. The author wrote, "A curious, most unchildlike persistence, a controlled impatience, made him wait."

He understood how dangerous swimming through the tunnel could be. He was frightened but he said to himself that if he did not do it now, he never would. Eventually, he did it. It happened in the morning, he went to the beach and swam through the tunnel. When he came to the surface, he saw "the local boys diving and playing half a mile away. He did not want them. He wanted nothing but to get back home and lie down."

He told his mother that he can stay underwater for three minutes. The mother looked at him closely. She noticed that his face was pale, he was strained. His eyes were glazed-looking. She was worried. She was ready to argue against his underwater swimming, "but he gave in at once. It was no longer of the least importance to go to the bay."

A reader can assume that when the boy becomes an adult he would be recognized for the great achievements. The idea that if you set your mind to something, then you can accomplish it - was expressed in Jerry’s desire to getting through the tunnel and as a result, he did that. After Jerry reached his goal, he no longer felt the desire to demonstrate it or to be congratulated by the other boys. In the case of Jerry, the tunnel symbolizes the passage from childhood to adulthood. In the story of the boy who went through the tunnel, the author represented people who are able to overcome difficulties.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tuesday Siesta by Gabriel García Márquez --- Analysi

The short story "Tuesday Siesta" by Gabriel García Márquez started from the positive description of the journey of two people - mother and daughter. The author highlighted the commonness of the life around. He wrote:
"On the narrow road parallel to the railway there were oxcarts loaded with green bunches of bananas. Beyond the road, in uncultivated spaces set at odd intervals there were offices with electric fans, red‐brick buildings, and residences with chairs and little white tables on the terraces among dusty palm trees and rose bushes. It was eleven in the morning, and the heat had not yet begun."

Before the final stop, the mother said her daughter to prepare herself, “Put on your shoes, ... comb your hair”. That's what mothers usually say in these circumstances. They arrived in the small town in midday during the siesta. There was nobody on the streets. The woman and her daughter went directly to the parish house. She asked the priest.

When the priest came the woman asked him for keys to the cemetery. This is a dialog which occurred between the priest and the woman:
Which grave are you going to visit?” he asked.
“Carlos Centeno's,” said the woman.
“Carlos Centeno,” the woman repeated.
The priest still did not understand.
“He's the thief who was killed here last week,” said the woman in the same tone of voice. “I am his mother.

The priest scrutinized her. She endured his glance with quiet self-control, and the Father blushed. He lowered his head and began to write. He asked the woman if she tried to get her son on the right track. She answered that her only son was a very good man, he never stole anything that anyone needed to eat. She said, "before, when he used to box, he used to spend three days in bed, exhausted from being punched.” “All his teeth had to be pulled out,” interrupted the girl. The woman added, “Every mouthful I ate those days tasted of the beatings my son got on Saturday nights.

The Father had noticed that somebody looked inside the house. It was unusual because during the siesta nobody walked on the streets. Soon they saw that the other people standing in front of all doors. It was suggested the woman and her daughter not to go out, to stay for a night in the house but she refused. These are the last lines in the story:
"Thank you,” replied the woman. “We're all right this way.”
She took the girl by the hand and went into the street.

The story left reader the choice to judge what is good and what is wrong there. Gabriel García Márquez expressed the idea of the responsibility of the mother - she did what she thought was the right thing. In the world of oppression and poverty, she can salvage her pride by not allowing anyone to trample on the love to her only son.

This is the link to the text of the story:

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Student's Wife by Raymond Carver --- Analysis

The story 'The Student's Wife' by Raymond Carver is about a few hours of the ordinary life of one couple. It is very likely that the purpose of the author was to describe the routine of everyday life and relationships inside one family.

Raymond Carver chose the monotonous rhythm of this narration. He wrote, "He had been reading to her from Rilke, a poet he admired when she fell asleep with her head on his pillow." She asked the narrator to make her a little sandwich. He did nothing because he was almost asleep. When he opened his eyes he saw her watching him. He said that it is late, it's better to sleep. Eventually, as the author said, "He groaned extravagantly as he rolled out of bed."

The wife said that she had a funny little dream. She told her husband that in her dream she saw how they playfully argued about where to sit in the motorboat while they were sailing in it. She laughed, remembering, and leaned forward off the pillow.

He thought that he should say something but only replied: "That's some dream". She continued, "Do you remember that time we stayed overnight on the Tilton River, Mike? When you caught that big fish the next morning? ..."Well? Do you remember or not?" she said, patting him on the shoulder. "Mike?"

She didn't want him to sleep, and so she kept asking him new and new questions. She complained about her health, she remembered what happened many years ago. He hardly answered he thought, "I wish you'd leave me alone".

She tried not to listen to his breathing, but a sound coming from his nose became louder. She tried to regulate her breathing trying to breathe in the same rhythm. She couldn't sleep, she began to cry. She woke up, went to the children's room, pulled the covers up over her son's shoulders, went back to the living room and sat in the big chair. The sky grew whiter. The author wrote in the last line, "She put her hands out on the bed. "God.' she said. "God, will you help us, God?" she said."

The characters of the story idealized expectations of what their lives should be but it turned to the reality. The woman in the story compared the present state of her marriage with an ideal of the "perfect" weekend that they had several years ago. It became clear that she was not happy with the current state of her marriage.

Both characters in the story seemed to care about each other but readers could feel the annoyance of the husband and the desperation of the wife. When the husband fell asleep, feelings of depression for the wife increased.

Raymond Carver presented the idea of lonely individuals which could not be noticeable to others. The feeling of anxiety and desperation presented here is entirely through action. It gave the freedom for readers to think about it and to make own conclusion.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Here is the link to the audio of the story (it was made by The Guardian):

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Classification Of The Beauty In ‘The Beauties’ by Anton Chekhov

The short story ‘The Beauties’ written by Anton Chekhov doesn’t have much actions. The narrator only told about two episodes of his life when he met beautiful girls. The author described these girls and concluded that “no one knows or can say in what its beauty lies”.

This is the first description:
An artist would have called the Armenian girl's beauty classical and severe, it was just that beauty, the contemplation of which -- God knows why!-- inspires in one the conviction that one is seeing correct features; that hair, eyes, nose, mouth, neck, bosom, and every movement of the young body all go together in one complete harmonious accord in which nature has not blundered over the smallest line. You fancy for some reason that the ideally beautiful woman must have such a nose as Masha's, straight and slightly aquiline, just such great dark eyes, such long lashes, such a languid glance; you fancy that her black curly hair and eyebrows go with the soft white tint of her brow and cheeks as the green reeds go with the quiet stream. Masha's white neck and her youthful bosom were not fully developed, but you fancy the sculptor would need a great creative genius to mold them. You gaze, and little by little the desire comes over you to say to Masha something extraordinarily pleasant, sincere, beautiful, as beautiful as she herself was.

Here is the second description:
Standing at the window talking, the girl, shrugging at the evening damp, continually looking round at us, at one moment put her arms akimbo, at the next raised her hands to her head to straighten her hair, talked, laughed, while her face at one moment wore an expression of wonder, the next of horror, and I don't remember a moment when her face and body were at rest. The whole secret and magic of her beauty lay just in these tiny, infinitely elegant movements, in her smile, in the play of her face, in her rapid glances at us, in the combination of the subtle grace of her movements with her youth, her freshness, the purity of her soul that sounded in her laugh and voice, and with the weakness we love so much in children, in birds, in fawns, and in young trees.

As it was mentioned above, it is not possible to classify the beauty. The simplest classification would be:
- the first girl represented a beauty of appearance,
- the second - the beauty of movements.

Chekhov was captivated by the beauty of these two. Their beauty had faded, they lived a hundred years ago, but the picture of their beauty written by the great Russian classic is eternal.

Here is the link to the text in English:

Here is the link to the text in Russian (original text):

Sunday, July 1, 2018

My Financial Career by Stephen Leacock --- Analysis

The short story “My Financial Career” by Stephen Leacock is written in a humorous style, in the style of O'Henry - I would say.

The story was written from the first site the narrator told about his unsuccessful experiment of visiting a bank office. The narrator thought that after his salary had been increased to fifty-six dollars a month he needed something to do with it.

The first person which the narrator saw in the bank was a clerk whose table was marked as “Accountant”'. The narrator asked him, “Can I see the manager” and added solemnly “alone”. The narrator made a remark about this question; “I don't know why I said 'alone.''

When the manager came the narrator asked him if he is really the manager (though there were no reasons to doubt ) and added, “Can I see you alone?” The narrator didn't want to say alone again; however, it happened unintentionally.

The manager led the narrator to a private room and turned the key in the lock. The author wrote,

"We both sat down and looked at each other. I found no voice to speak.”
“You are one of Pinkerton's me I suppose
,” he said.

The narrator answered that he is not from the police. He came to the bank because he intended to keep all of his money in this bank. The manager concluded that the narrator was probably a son of a billionaire and asked about the sum of money.

When it became clear that it was a conversation about fifty-six dollars, the manager called another clerk and said unkindly loud that “this gentleman is opening an account. He will deposit fifty-six dollars.”

When it was deposited, the narrator asked in a hollow, and vibrating voice that he wanted to draw a cheque. His idea was to draw out six dollars of it for present use. But when he gave the check to the clerk the narrator realized that he had written fifty-six instead of six. The next dialog between the very surprised clerk and narrator occurred

You withdraw your money from the bank?”
“Every cent of it.”
“Are you not going to deposit anymore?” said the clerk; astonished.

The author wrote in the last paragraph,
As the big door swung behind me I caught the echo of a roar of laughter that went up to the ceiling of the bank. Since then I bank no more.

The author described how a person could feel and behave in an awkward situation. It would so happen that after one unintentional phrase is spoken, the next phrase makes the situation even more embarrassing. The way it was written by the author was very impressive and funny.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Araby by James Joyce -– Analysis

The story 'Araby' by James Joyce is part of a volume of the short stories 'Dubliners' based on the author's childhood experiences. Here are some of the features of Joyce's works which are important for understanding his prose:
- Epiphany is an ordinary moment in the present when the moment of truth is revealed;
- James Joyce used the stream-of-consciousness technique, the plot of the story would become less important than the picture of current life in the mind of the characters of the story.
- The visual and symbolic details are very important parts of the story.

In the beginning of the story, the author draws a picture of an isolated place where the main character - a teenage boy lived. The author wrote, "North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers' School set the boys free. " The view for the world which the author expressed through the thoughts of a boy was restricted only by surrounding things and circumstances. The narrator said that the former tenant of the house, a priest, had died. He left a few books, their pages were curled and damp, and a rusty bicycle-pump.

The author dedicated an essential part of the story to the description of the boy's surroundings, his "tiny little world". The central figure of this world was a girl. Here are the first lines where she was mentioned:

"... if Mangan's sister came out on the doorstep to call her brother in to his tea we watched her from our shadow peer up and down the street. ..., her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door. Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side."

Her image accompanied the narrator constantly, even in places not suitable for romance. When the boy with his aunt walked through the evening’s streets full of drunken men and bargaining women, he imagined how he would protect her. The narrator said, "I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom."

At last, she spoke to the narrator. She asked if he was going to Araby, it would be a splendid bazaar and she would love to go but she couldn't. It was not an ordinary dialog, the author described the boy's impression, her figure in a light from outside, her hair and so on. Eventually, the narrator said, "If I go, I said, I will bring you something."

In the next days, all the thoughts of the boy were about a trip to bazar. The word "Araby" was associated for him with a mysterious Eastern enchantment. He asked his uncle to allow him to go on Saturday to the bazaar and to give some money for it. At the appointed time, the boy didn't find his uncle home. He forgot his promise. The uncle came back home later and when the narrator asked him for money for the bazaar, he joked, "—The people are in bed and after their first sleep now, he said." But the narrator did not smile. The aunt said to her husband energetically, "—Can't you give him the money and let him go? You've kept him late enough as it is."

The story can be divided into two parts: the first part is about the expectations of a young boy, the second part describes how they turned into reality. The narrator reached the bazaar, entered a shop there and stayed in front of the counter examining porcelain vases. Not far away from him a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen. The narrator unwittingly listened to their conversation.

The shop assistant asked the narrator if he wished to buy anything. The author wrote, "The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall and murmured: —No, thank you.".

The narrator stayed a little, pretending that he was looking at other stuff in the shop and slowly started his way back. This line finished the story, "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger."

James Joyce described in this story contrast between expectations and results. There are expressions in English such as, 'building castles made of sand', ‘having your head in the clouds’ and so on which are similar to the situation described in the story. No place for pessimism! Tomorrow the boy will see something new, exciting, his life only begins ...

This is a link to the text of the story:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

“Say to” or “tell”

This is a discussion which I started on the site about the English Grammar:

There is a question in the test:
Do you know who she is? No, she didn´t ___ her name.

According to Murphy ‘English Grammar in Use’:
If you say who somebody is talking to, use tell:
- Sonia told me that you were in hospital. (not Sonia said me)
But you can 'say something to somebody':
- What did you say to the police?

Does it mean that there are two right answers: "say to me" and "tell me"?

According to the author of the test - the right answer "tell me". Why?

Comment 1:

Right answers could be "say" or "tell me/us". If the exercise requires two words to fill the gap, then "tell me/us" is the only option. If the ex. does not specify this, then it is an unfair one.

It is correct that you use "say + to + person" and "tell + person".

But you can extend these structures like this:
"say + something (e.g. her name) to + person"
"tell + person + something (e.g. her name)".

You can omit the last idea in the structures where it is obvious from the context:
"say + something e.g her name"
"tell + a person e.g. me"

Comment 2:

You "tell" someone something.
You "say" something to someone.

I want to tell you what I heard last night.
Jack says the party starts at 8pm.

Comment 3:

Further to previous explanation, I would like to add that, in this case, the answer could be 'give' : 'she didn´t give her name'.

This is a 'one-off' specific case which only applies in this context e.g. 'give me your name' i.e. 'tell me your name', and is only used verbally.

Comment 4:

it is not a very good test. IT IS UNFAIR

you can insert either"say" or "tell" her name into the missing gap.But say would be the most natural.

to make it correct for tell it would be.

Do you know who she is? No, she didn't tell us/me her name.

tell is used to say she passed on the information by saying or other means

Say is used to say she passed on information by saying speaking.