How Each Writer Makes You Feel Sympathy for the Main Characters

Category: Characters
Last Updated: 07 Jul 2020
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Both of the writers make me feel sympathy for the main characters because the main characters are both still in their youth and they both face the same fate – death. Although the characters are portrayed in very different situations, both writers show how powerless they are to avert their fate. By having an accident or tragedy in the pieces, the writers make the reader feel compassion because it is not the central characters fault. From saying that the boy was ‘a child at heart’ whilst ‘doing a man’s work’, Frost tells us directly how young the boy is and how he is not experienced enough to understand how important his hands are.

He uses repetition of the word ‘child’ to emphasise how still is. In contrast, Andre and Jacob in The Last Night are only children; they are orphans and they only have each other to rely on. Faulks makes us feel even more sorry for the Jewish children because even a ‘baby of a few weeks is being lifted’ onto the bus to go to the concentration camp. The writers make the reader feel sympathy for the main characters by making their background circumstances pitiable; although they are both young, their lives are very hard. The boy in the poem is only a teenager, but he is already working.

In the poem, he is on his own working by himself and has to work for a very long day. Frost uses repetition of ‘snarled and rattled’ to emphasise how boring the boy’s job is. He has to concentrate and cannot enjoy the scenery; he is not one of those that had the time to lift their eyes to ‘count the five mountain ranges one behind the other under the sunset far into Vermont. ’ In contrast, the living conditions in the Last Night are very poor; the squalid conditions of the Jews that are waiting to be taken to the concentration camp makes the readers feel pity for them.

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While the children are waiting, they are only given a sandwich and a pail of water to share between them; they have to drink water out of sardine cans. The sleeping conditions are also very poor; the children have to sleep on dung. When Faulks talks about Andre ‘lying on the straw’ with the ‘soft bloom of his cheek laying, uncaring, in the dung’, the contrast of the words ‘soft bloom’ and ‘dung’ informs the reader of how dirty it is there. The characters in both texts have the same fate, but the writers portray their fate in different ways.

In ‘Out, Out –’, the storyline happens a lot quicker and the poem includes the boy’s death. This makes the reader feel very shocked and sorry for the main character because everything can happen so quickly; life can be short and brutal. Frost makes the reader feel sympathy for the central characters by making the event seem threatening; he uses harsh onomatopoeic words. In ‘Out, Out –’, the buzz saw is presented as the boy’s enemy. Frost uses the word ‘snarled’ to compare the buzz saw with a fierce dog.

The word ‘rattled’ makes the reader anxious because it makes the buzz saw seem like it is going to break soon. Frost uses repetition in his poem; by repeating ‘snarled and rattled’, the atmosphere grows tenser as the disastrous moment is approaching. He makes the accident seem terrible by including many details. The boy’s reaction after the incident happens is terror and fear about his hand. He shows the effect of injecting the wrong amount of ether in someone. The boy ‘puffed his lips out with his breath’ because the doctor ‘put him in the dark of ether. Frost even uses punctuation to explain the boy’s death; he uses dashes near the end of the poem to make it sound jerky: ‘they listened at his heart. Little–less–nothing! –and that ended it. ’ These pauses mimic his breathing because it is gradually slowing down as the words ‘little’, ‘less’ and then ‘nothing’ indicate. In The Last Night, the storyline is slower and less dramatic because the story ends with the Jews being loaded on the bus, while the poem ends with the boy’s death. By doing this, Faulks builds up anticipation of something dreadful that is going to happen.

In this piece, we never find out exactly what happens to the Jews in the concentration camp, but we see them being loaded onto the buses. This makes it is easier for the reader to imagine what is going to happen to Andre and Jacob. In this story, the ‘homely thudding of a Parisian bus’ is the sound that threatens the Jews waiting to be taken to a concentration camp. This makes the reader feel pity for the Jews because they will never hear the ‘familiar sound’ of the engine’s noise again. Faulks includes many descriptions of what the Jews are doing; he makes it clear how it is going to be their last time.

In the beginning of the story, when the Jews are writing their ‘final message’, we are told how they are writing with ‘sobbing passion’ and others with ‘punctilious care’ even though they know that the ‘camp orders forbid access to the post. ’ Even the description of Andre and Jacob huddling together lying on the straw makes the reader feel sorry for them. The sentence ‘Jacob’s limbs were intertwined with his for warmth’ shows how they both need each other. In both pieces, the central characters seem to be vulnerable and threatened by something they cannot control; they do not have ower over their fate. Neither of the characters is aware of their impending fate. In ‘Out, Out –’, the boy does not deserve to die; the buzz saw cuts the boy’s hand because he loses his concentration at the sound of his sister saying ‘Supper. ’ Even the people in both pieces wanting to help are powerless: the doctor in ‘Out, Out –’ injects the wrong amount of ether in the boy, leaving him ‘in the dark of ether; the ‘shower of food’ that the women in The Last Night throw towards the Jews never reaches them.

In The Last Night, the gendarmes drag the children to the bus; nothing will change even if they ‘dig in their heels and scream. ’ The writers make us feel sympathy by having different responses of the people around the central characters. In ‘Out, Out –’, when the boy accidentally cuts his hand and dies due to the excessive amount of ether, his fellow workers ‘turned to their affairs’, ‘since they were not the one dead. ’ They do not feel sympathy for the boy who has just died which makes the reader feel sorrier for the boy. In The Last Night, there are many women who are ‘wailing’ and mourning for the Jews.

Even ‘a shower of food was thrown towards them’ to show how sorry they are because they cannot do anything to help the young children on-board. This makes the reader also feel sorry for the Jews. Even though the responses of the people in both texts are different, the reader still feels sorry in both occasions. In both texts, the writers create powerful dramatic irony by allowing the reader to understand what the central characters cannot foresee. The central characters created by the writers are innocent and do not deserve to die.

When the boy in ‘Out, Out –’ accidentally cuts his hand with the buzz saw, at first he does not understand how serious his injury is: his ‘first outcry’ was a ‘rueful laugh’; he holds up his hand to keep his ‘life from spilling’ showing how much blood there is. In The Last Night, while the Jews are waiting to be taken to the concentration camp, the adults sit ‘slumped against the walls’. The children, on the other hand, have the ‘ability to fall asleep to dream of other places’ because they do not know where they are going to be taken since they are able to fall asleep without any worries.

Later in the story, the adults ‘refuse to drink’ coffee because they know ‘it meant breakfast, and therefore departure’, while the children were at the ‘deepest moments of their sleep. ’ The writers make us feel sorry for the central characters because they both have feelings of fear and terror in them after understanding how serious the situations are. In ‘Out, Out –’, the boy’s fear when he is begging the doctor not to cut off his hand after he realises how important his hands are for work makes us feel sorry for him because he won’t be able to work.

The Last Night shows Andre growing up through the story; it makes us feel sorry for him now that he has some understanding of what waits him. In the beginning, he does not really know what is happening, but when Andre sees a woman whose ‘eyes were fixed with terrible ferocity on a child,’ he starts wondering why. As he asks himself questions, he begins to understand why the woman was doing that and then he realises that the woman ‘was not looking in hatred, but … she was looking to remember’ her child forever. This makes the reader feel very sorry for the parents who have to separate from their child.

Later in the story, he ‘holds on hard to Jacob as they go up on the bus; this shows his own fear and realisation that they are probably going to die soon. Even though there are similarities in their background circumstances, the actual situation the central characters are in is different: one is ordinary and one is not. The situation of the boy in ‘Out, Out –’ is ordinary compared to Andre and Jacob’s situation because accidents at work are still quite common. One of the main differences is the scale of the problem. Out, Out –’ presents a personal tragedy where the reader feels sympathy for just one person. On the other hand, The Last Night presents a whole group of people who are suffering. If you were poor, you would probably have to start working earlier because you would need more money. In the boy’s case, he has to start working at an earlier age, but because he loses his concentration for a moment, the buzz saw ‘leaps out at the boy’s hand. ’ The Last Night focuses on a historical event which is unparalleled in history – the Holocaust. The Jewish children cannot take any blame or responsibility for their fate.

The story talks about what happens while they are waiting to be sent to a concentration camp in the 1940s; Faulks wants the reader to feel sympathy for a whole group. This shows how abnormal and unfair the situation is because many Jews were sent to concentration camps just for being Jewish. The characters’ backgrounds in both texts are very different compared to my situation; they have to go through a lot at such a young age. The way the characters are portrayed by the writer helps me understand their situation and empathise with them because there is a lot of descriptive detail.

Overall, I felt more sympathy for Andre and his brother Jacob in The Last Night than the boy in ‘Out, Out –’ mainly because I can relate better to The Last Night because I know about the Second World War and what happened to the Jews. The poem includes the boy’s unexpected death, while the innocent and younger children in The Last Night do not even know where they are headed for; I find it more powerful that the reader is left to imagine what happens when the Jews reach the concentration camp and how Andre and Jacob copes.

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How Each Writer Makes You Feel Sympathy for the Main Characters. (2017, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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