Intentionally the authors of all three stories have decided to drag the theme into the main characters taking the step from childhood to adolescence. When the Wasps Drowned by Clare Wigfall uses the wasps as a tool to show how their childhood changes and how they grow up, very similar to how Mrs Rutters tale in the story of The Darkness Out There by Penelope Lively changed Kerry and Sandra as individuals. Examination Day, though having a way different plot also has a theme of main characters changing but in this story the character that changes are the parents.
The theme of the main characters to take the step from childhood to adolescence because of their surroundings is set up clearly in the introductions of all the stories where they are described as young and innocent. Also, the older characters make the younger characters realize how brutal and cruel the world actually is differently. Similar to the actions of the older characters all the stories endings are written short to remain the reader with suspense and little clue, this resulting in theories developing among the reader.
Above all else, in all three stories the authors use the theme of the main characters to take a step from childhood to adolescence. In the beginnings of both When The Wasps Drowned and The Darkness Out There the readers gives theories of how the main characters are young and innocent but could be in the process of growing up and taking the footstep towards becoming an adult while in Examination Day the main characters attempt to take this step results in death.
In the beginning of When the Wasps Drowned Wigfall starts: “That was the summer Therese stepped on the wasps’ nest and brought an end to our barefoot wanderings” The way Wigfall says that Therese stepped on the wasps’ nest brought an end their barefoot wanderings is metaphorically written purposely to say that their childhood is overdone and they are growing up. Interestingly enough Wigfall continues saying: “when the sun shone every day and everybody commented upon it. Indirectly Wigfall is trying to make it sound like Therese does not like growing up and that the sweet old days were much better.
Also Therese does not want to grow up while in the other hand her older sister the narrator Evelyn wants to grow up so badly and take that big step from being a child to adult. This is very clear in Paragraph 8 where Evelyn says: “We’d walk down to the park and I’d sit by the swings and watch the boys. ” She is becoming sexually aware by saying she would want to watch the boys and by this she realises boys are something of interest.
Also she turns an old vest into a bikini: “I’d fashioned a bikini from a pair of pink knickers and an old vest which I’d cropped just below my nipples. “ On the other hand in the story of the Darkness Out There Kerry and Sandra the two main young characters of the story are described quite standard to the reader and the first description of Kerry was quite negative saying: “Blacked licked-down hair and slitty eyes” The description is clearly negative and makes Kerry sounds very gothic, lonely and not social at all by saying she has black licked-down hair and slitting eyes.
Sandra is meanwhile described very nicely in the first sentence of the story: “She walked through flowers, the girl, ox-eye daises and vetch and cow parsley, keeping to the track at the edge of the field. ” Undoubtedly this is clearly written by Lively, the author to create confusion to the reader. Although Sandra is described as young and innocent in the introduction further on in the story Lively writes this about Sandra: “She touched secretly, the soft skin of her thigh; she felt her breasts poke up and out of the thin stuff of her top. The way Sandra is described to touch herself indicates that Sandra is noticing something new in her. Meanwhile in Examination Day, the main young character Dickie Jordan is described young and innocent in a much different way and this is very much linked with the dramatic ending.
Dickie is early on in the story described as curious about the upcoming examination, something every child in his position would be: “He was an alert-eyed youngster with flat blond hair and a quick, nervous manner. He didn’t understand what the sudden tension was about, but he did know that today was his birthday, and he wanted harmony above all. This quotation indicates that Dickie still wanted to be young, he didn’t want to stress about anything and just be happy and his parents were trying to this as good as they could. In general, all these 3 stories have introductions where the main younger characters are described as young, innocent or curious and above all matter a child. The older characters in each story make the characters realise that everything is not a walk in the park and that being an adult is tough and brutal. In the story of The Darkness Out There Mrs.
Rutter is described very stereotypically to the reader in the beginning but as Sandra and Kerry gets to know her better her true sides comes out to the reader. When she tells Kerry about the Second World War accident at Packers End Kerry started reacting: “The boy shoved his chair back from the table. ” Kerry is clearly starting to get mad and not wanting to hear more of the story.
A paragraph later after Mrs Rutter described further on from the story about the Germans Kerry reacts even more: “The boy got up. He glanced down at the girl. I’m going,’ he said. ‘Dunno about you, but I’m going. Kerry is really mad at this moment and he has realized how bad Mrs Rutters action is, Sandra on the other hand is a bit more hesitant but in the end she follows Kerry: “She stared at the lacy cloth on the table, the fluted china cup. ’ I will come too. ” Sandra and Kerry has at this stage both realized how bad Mrs Rutter action was and the hate is too much for the both of them and from this these two have learned a lesson and in the second last paragraph this is comprehensibly shown: “One moment you were walking there in long grass with the sun on your hair and birds singing and the next you glimpsed darkness, an inescapable darkness.
The darkness was out there and it was a part of you and you would never be without it. ” Mrs Rutter, the older character in this story has on purpose made the character realize that the darkness is out there and being an adult is tough and brutal. In the story of When The Wasps Drowned there is no clear indication of the characters learning a lesson from Mr Mordecai’s action but Therese, Tyler and the narrator are clearly affected by the situation: “My fingers, fiddling unconsciously, played with the ring for a moment as we stood together in the dark hallway.
None of us said a thing. Taking Therese and Tyler by the hand, I turned, and we stepped back into the sunlight of the garden. ” The narrator wants Therese and Tyler not to feel bad and realize what has happened. In Examination Day the opposite is done but if the perspective of Dickie before he would be clearly scared and more aware of what was happening. In the story he was curious and he wanted to know what would happen to him during the exam but his parents didn’t tell him anything and this in a way changed the outcome.
If Dickie in an earlier stage was told what was going to happen he would have been mentally prepared but this never happen and this was intentionally done by the author to keep the suspense amongst the reader and keep them interested in the text. To summarize, the older characters have clearly in some kind of way affected how the younger characters develop towards something else. The ending in all three stories teaches either the reader or the main character an important lesson about how cruel the world is.
In Examination Day the ending is sudden and just a couple of line long. In my point of view this is intentionally done by Slesar to say that the parents have no comments to what has happened and feel devastated over what they have done. Also, the way the government gives them the message is so cold that it reflects upon the government to the reader that they are cruel and non-caring and giving more evidence of them being extremely communist.
In the Darkness Out There the ending is short and not very understandable but from it Sandra concludes that Kerry has truly learnt a lesson about life and that they have realize that there is some darkness out there and that you have to grow on that. Lastly in the story of When The Wasps Drowned the story does not have a proper ending but it does make the narrator much more mature and it seems like it did truly learn a lesson. Above all else it is clearly shown that in all three short stories the endings have either teached the reader or the main character a valuable lesson.
All three stories use the theme of the characters growing up and realize how cruel the world is to make the reader conscious of how horrible the world is. In The Darkness Out There Penelope Lively has done this through Mrs Rutter and her story of how she left the injured Germans hanging. Meanwhile, The Darkness Out There has managed to use the theme of growing up through a metaphor with the wasps. Lastly Examination Day shows how cruel the government is through Dickie’s death. To summarise, all these three stories has used the characters efficiently to show the theme of growing up.