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Read through the story and write down a few points that summarise the plotof the story. Acquaint yourself with the characters in the story. plot The structure of the storyline, the way in which the action develops. This will usually include the settings, the development of character, crisis or climax and resolution The plot is about two young people, Sandra and Kerry, who belong to the Good Neighbours’ Club. They go to do volunteer work at Mrs Rutter’s house. She is an elderly lady who lives past Packer’s End, a field that was said to be haunted.
Sandra is not pleased that it is Kerry she is working with, as she had hoped it would be her friend, Susie. After some time, Mrs Rutter tells them the story of what really happened at Packer’s End during the war. An enemy plane was shot down over the field and she and her sister (Dot) went to investigate the crash. They found the plane, but also found one of the soldiers in it still alive. Because it was the enemy and because her own husband had been killed in the war, Mrs Rutter leaves the soldier to die overnight.
When they arrive at the scene the next morning, he is still alive, but they don’t get any help for him. * The young people are shocked by what she tells them and Sandra suddenly sees Mrs Rutter in a new light, but she also sees Kerry in a new light. Sandra She is a young girl who is a volunteer at the Good Neighbour’s Club. She tells us that she is “nervy” and we see this when she walks past Packer’s End. She describes how when she was younger she had thought there were wolves and witches and tigers in the wood.
This changed and when she was about twelve she heard that a German plane had gone down there, but had also heard stories about gypsies and rapists. She is a conventional young girl who would like to have a “bit of a giggle” with her friend, Susie, and is disappointed that Kerry Stevens with his “blacked licked-down hair and slitty eyes” was joining her at Mrs Rutter’s. Kerry is described in detail in lines 135 – 139. What does this description suggest to you? It is mostly about his appearance – acne, pale flesh – all that Sandra is concerned with is his appearance at first.
This changes at the end of the story. She doesn’t know how Kerry can stand having dirt and grime under his nails from working on cars and “she thought of oily workshop floors, of the fetid underside of cars” (line 207). She thinks that Mrs Rutter will be old and kind and thinks that “old Mrs Rutter with her wonky leg would be ever so pleased to see them because they were really sweet, lots of the old people” (lines 93 – 94). Mrs Rutter She is seen at first to be a typical old lady who lives at Nether Cottage and is described as “a dear old thing, all on her own” (lines 4 – 5).
Her behaviour and the setting of the cottage (see Setting) portray her as ordinary. She is described as “a cottage-loaf of a woman, with a face below which chins collapsed into one another, a creamy smiling pool of a face in which her eyes snapped and darted” (lines 97 – 99). This description of her appearance certainly doesn’t convey anything but a gentle old woman. Kerry Stevens He is a typical teenage boy with acne and “blacked licked-down hair” who is pleased when he gives Sandra a fright when they meet at Packer’s End.
He is shocked by Mrs Rutter’s story and vows never to go “near that old bitch again” (line 364). Setting Packer’s End and Nether Cottage are where the story takes place. Packer’s End is described as a scary place where dreadful things have happened – “You didn’t go by yourself through Packer’s End if you could help it, not after teatime, anyway” (lines 30 – 31). Nether Cottage is described as being filled with sweet ornaments and pictures. Look at the description in lines 101 – 105 and try to imagine what the room looked like. Does this tell us anything about Mrs Rutter?
The room is cluttered, but quite homely. The ornaments are all of rabbits and kittens and milkmaids and children – these are hardly sinister. She comes across as someone who likes collecting memorabilia Look at the description in lines 144 – 145 “a composite chintzy mass from which the cushions oozed and her voice flowed softly on. ” This is a cosy description which portrays her as a nice old woman. The structure of this story relies on the reader ‘getting to know’ Mrs Rutter as a gentle woman who lives alone and is quite helpless because of her “wonky leg”.
When she does tell us the horrific story of the plane going down and her and Dot’s failure to save the man who is still alive, it becomes all the more horrific and we realise, with Sandra, that people are not always what they seem and that there is definitely “darkness out there. ” This makes the realisation that much more startling and effective. “Everything is not as it appears, oh no” (line 384). We are also then able to comprehend why Sandra sees such a change in Kerry.
The change in Kerry is also well set up as in the beginning, from Sandra’s descriptions, we are led to believe that he is not special and yet at the end Sandra says things like “He had grown; he had got older and larger. His anger eclipsed his acne, the patches of grease on his jeans, his lardy midriff… ” (lines 373 – 375). Look at the last two paragraphs: pick out the images of darkness. How do these images link to the story and to the title?
“You could get people wrong and there was a darkness that was not the darkness of tree shadows and murky undergrowth… ” (lines 375 – 377) “…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, ever. ” (lines 380 – 382) These quotations refer to darkness, because the speaker in the story has just glimpsed inescapable darkness herself in the form of Mrs Rutter.
This has changed the way she thinks about other people and the way in which she will view the world from now on. She says it will be with her for ever and she will never be without it now that she knows what it is. She will never be able to see a person, no matter how nice and innocent they look, as just that.
This story deals with a young girl’s realisation about life. Her whole outlook on life changes at the end of the story. Choose one other story in the anthology that deals with this issue and show how the authors present this issue to us. Describe what the issue is and look at how their characters deal with it. (A good comparison would be Superman and Paula Brown’s Snowsuit. ) Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Joseph Conrad section.