English Speech: How would you feel if your mother had to clean other people’s houses to make a living? How far would you really go for a friend, would you sacrifice a love life, your education? Out of all the books I have read, I absolutely love Tim Winton’s short stories, 2 short stories that I loved are “On Her knees” and “Big World”.
I have particularly enjoyed “On her knees” not only because of its intriguing name but because it depicts the issue of dignity throughout the whole story and it taught me that “there is more honor in scrubbing other people’s floors than in having strangers scrub your own”, the second story “Big World” depicts the issue of friendship which also teaches me that “Friendship can evolve through the smallest of incidents” Now to the short story “Big World” which is about an emotional journey for a young man and his friend Biggie, who have recently failed their exams.
As life becomes monotonous by working in a abattoir, they decide to escapee and go as far away as they can from the town they had lived in, Angelus, so they buy an old VW which later breaks down and as the realization seeps in on how stupid the idea was, they decide to go separate ways. Friendship is one of the main themes in this short story; it expresses the idea of two friends who make sacrifices for each other so their friendship will be able to continue on.
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This can be seen in several times in the story; one is where the persona sacrifices his love for Briony9 Nevis, quote: “out of loyalty” and when the persona does Biggie’s homework “…his whole academic success was his essay on the demise of Led Zeppelin, but then I wrote that for him…” A technique that shows friendship is first person, making it seem as a personal experience, this point of view also enables the author to manipulate the reader’s feelings and judgments. This method also helps in creating an atmosphere where the reader feels as if he or she is one with the narrator which gets the story to be more involving.
For example: In the short story, the event in which Biggie’s father is described as a beater and that if Biggie were to return home his father “His father would beat the shit out of him…” which creates a sense of sympathy towards Biggie and a sense of antipathy towards his father. “On her knees” which is about a son’s perception of his mother’s cleaning work that is contrasted with pride and dignity, which is accentuated when she is falsely accused of theft. The short story itself is about dignity, about maintaining dignity and understanding its meaning.
What makes this a good read, is that the title itself contradicts the whole idea of dignity, the fact that when someone is on their knees, they are in a degrading state but in this short story Winton has effectively shown that this is not true and that no matter what occupation your mother has you will always be quote: “proud of her good name”. The narrator Victor Lang loathes to see his mother lower herself and degrade her own dignity just to provide an education for him quote: “... my mother cleaned houses to pay debts and keep us afloat and get me through university... , this depicts how the mother had a “come-down” from her previous job as a receptionist, as long as her son is well provided for, such a high class occupation to a “domestic benchmark”. The "veins livid in her legs" represent labor, pain and strain which in contrast to the character of the house owner is regarded as admirable. A further comparison of the narrator's and the owner's shows that while they of low class have a neat clean home, those of "higher class" have a messy one full of neglect. A sad truth is put forth in this story where the value of a pair of earrings surpasses the value of a human being.
A technique that shows dignity is symbolism. For example: the action of the boy taking a shower can be translated into a wanting to escape form this situation. The mother is said to give the boy a "lecture", which suggests that she is in control leading to another symbol of imprisonment for the boy. The car is another clever use of symbolism where the car represents the boy's life. It is said to be "reeking" which shows that the narrator hates his life. The cranking down of the window represents a desire to escape.
The mother is said to be driving carefully which shows two things: a) that she is in control of his life and b) that she makes sure she takes the safest route, protecting her son from harm. Not only have both of these short stories alienated me in such a way, but I found these stories surprisingly beautiful, I highly advise for you to read these two great short stories, because the next time you are facing troubles in life, you remember what Carol Lang had to go through in life, remember what happens when you don’t face your problems in life, not like a boy, but like a man.
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English Speech About Big World and on Her Knees. (2016, Dec 28). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/english-speech-about-big-world-and-on-her-knees-by-tim-winton/
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