In the opening of the story, Graham Swift utilizes descritptive composing to provide us a striking image of the pond, where he went with his grandfather and mom, “The pond in our park was circular, exposed, possibly fifty backyards throughout. When the wind blew, the little waves travelled throughout it and slapped the paved edges like a minature sea.” This assists the reader acquire a more exact image in their head of the park where the narrator is, and it likewise assists make the story more fascinating to check out.
The opening of the story is likewise parallel to completion. The narrator in the story, goes back to the pond at the end of the story, and once again gives us good images description of it, “Dead willow leaves drifted on it”. I found this interesting, since it makes the story cyclical, and might be a reminder of the journey of maturing and of the acceptance’ “You need to accept it – you can’t get it back” ‘.
It also persuades us to think that the narrator returned to the park, for wishful thinking – hoping that his grandfather would return and not wishing to left go of the past.
When I initially began reading the story, I thought that it was a female narrator. Among the thinkings for this is since it said, “My grandmother passed away unexpectedly … all I know is that I should have had her looks.” However, we are later informed that the narrator is a 10 years old kid. We knowledgeable about this due to the fact that his mom calls him her “little guy” and she also states,’ “He’s only ten, what can he understand?” ‘. I find this incredibly fascinating in the story, due to the fact that he seems very fully grown, intelligent and formal. Although he is only ten years old, he utilizes intricate words and sentences such as “fundamentals of chemistry”, “haunches” and “reconciled them in shared grief”.
However, he is cold blooded as he rarely describes how he is feeling and has never mentioned about being upset when his father and grandmother died. This is an unusual perspective to use as he is so young, yet faced with traumatizing experiences, but I believe that the author has done this to highlight his innocent and because he will have few prejudices. This means he will tell the story how it is, without changing it to suit what he believes or his own opinions. An example of this, is when his father comes to see him. Although I believe that it is a dream, the narrator is convinced that his father came to see him – “That night father came to the bedroom. I knew it was him”.
At the beginning of the story, I find it interesting, that the author describes the boat journey, over the pond towards grandfather as “trouble free”. Then, all of a sudden the boat sinks. I believe that the author purposely makes the boat sink when Ralph is immediately introduced to the story, “Then one day – it must have been soon after mother met Ralph – we watched the boat… become deeper and deeper in the water.”
This contrasts greatly with the boat journey on the pond before the boy’s mother met Ralph, and poses questions in the readers mind that Ralph is going to stop the boy’s and grandfathers “trouble free” life. I believe that this is interesting because he is indirectly warning the readers that Ralph is going to make things worse, which is symbolic of the sinking boat. An example of Ralph making things worse later in the story, is during meal times. This is because since Ralph’s appearance, the narrator’s mother would cook the things that only Ralph liked and forget to produce meals that grandfather was of. Thus resulting in arguments at meal times, when grandfather was sent out to his shed.
Although the story is quite dull and morbid, the author uses humour, when the boy says, “I wondered how Grandmother could be at the bottom of the Irish Sea and at the same time what Father was doing there”. Again, this highlights his innocence and although it is humerous we are not laughing with him, but at his ignorance.
In the story, there are many time shifts. Numerous times the narrator goes back in time, to update and tell the reader of a previous event, such as the relationships between his mother and grandfather before Ralph came along, and explaining why his mother and him came to live with his grandfather . This may be significant in the story because he preferred things in the past, compared to now.
I find the relationship between the narrators mother and grandfather interesting. “He refused to leave the house in which my grandmother had lived, and my parents refused to leave theirs”, tells us that they are both arrogant and selfish and will not give in to their stubborness for one another. The narrator tells us that his mother is also hypocritical towards her father, “no matter how neglectful and even hurtful she might be to Grandfather herself, she wouldn’t have forgiven someone else’s hurting him”. Also, she tries to punish her father by isolating him from them (as he was “runing their meals”) by saying “do you want to take yours out to your shed?!”
When he dies, her mother shows no remorse and “did not cry”. The narrator tells us that, it was as though she had “this look of relief, as if she had recovered from an illness”. The narrator does not say this, but we assume that the illness was her father. The boy believes that his mother is in love with Ralph, and would choose him over her father, “If Ralph hurts Grandfather it means I’m right – he doesn’t really care about mother at all; but if mother is cruel to Grandfather it means she really loves Ralph”. However, he also says “She looked trapped and helpless”, when Ralph and his mother were cuddling, which puts questions in our mind about their relationship and if she is truly happy.
Within the story there are many hidden messages and meanings. There are many questions that remained unanswered too. An example of this is when the boy’s father came to visit him during the night. He says to him, ‘ “It was her. She made a hole in the bottom of the boat, not big enough to notice, so it would sink – so you and Grandfather would watch it sink. The boat sank – like my plane” ‘. The questions that this poses in my mind are: Did the boy’s mother kill her father? Did she kill the boys Grandfather? Is he looking for someone to blame? Did she purposely sink his boat? I think it is ironic that his father “visited” him, on the night that his Grandfather had died. I believe the author did this purposely to add more mystery and confusion to the story.
Another example which raises hints and questions to the reader is the cherry laurel bushes that were growing in their garden. He says, “Only the cherry-laurel bushes were partly denuded – for some reason Grandfather had been picking their leaves.” Further on in the story, when the boy goes out to the shed, he begins questioning his Grandfather about the chemicals he had. ‘ “Laurel water. Prussic acid.” He smiled. “Not for drinking.” ‘ The smile may indicate to the reader that he is smiling to the boy through innocence; telling him to politely and informaly not to drink it, or he his smiling to himself, asthough he has something planned. Again, this poses more questions in my mind but it contradicts my believing that the boys mother killed the boys Grandfather, and because of this it adds more unanswered questions.
Also in the story, I find interesting that the official verdict was “suicide by swallowing prussic acid”, which is an argument for his Grandafther commiting suicide (as he had some prussic acid in his shed), yet the boy is extremely cynical and believes his mother murdered her father. ” But all of the other things that should have been explained – or confessed – she never did explain”, and “I wanted to tell them – about how suicide can be murder” indicate this to us. His mother says to the boy, ‘ “…he wouldn’t have lived much longer anyway” ‘ which may inform the reader that she is trying to justify her actions (murder).
Throughout the story is the theme of chemistry and how things are “changed – not made”. His Grandfather’s job, before retirement, was gold-plating and now, in the shed in the garden, he carries out many experiments, “I don’t think Grandfather practised chemistry for any particular reason”.The chemistry Grandfather experiments with and changes is a metaphor of what is happening in the home, ‘ “People change too, don’t they?” ‘ His Grandfather replies with “They change. But the element’s don’t change.” This is telling the reader, that although people/elements can change and become something else, underneath it all they are still made of the same as they were before.
Cite this essay
“Chemistry” written by Graham Swift. (2017, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/chemistry-written-by-graham-swift-essay