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How I hated that man. ‘ This also shows that he is a religious man as he is asking for God’s forgiveness for how he felt about Gilbert. The first section of the story gives you a very mixed opinion about the Sexton; we don’t know whether he is going to do something bad to Gilbert because of the way he prays to God for forgiveness of how he hated Gilbert. There has also been a bit of foreshadowing which again gets us thinking if something bad is going to happen to anyone. The middle section is a huge contrast from the brightness and happiness of the first section.
It starts off with the Sexton talking about fighting and once again he talks about himself very highly, saying ‘Well! I began to look out to pick a quarrel with him, for my blood was up to fight him. If I beat him (and I were a rare boxer in those days), I thought that Letty would cool towards me’ this shows that the Sexton is confident that if he fought with Gilbert, he would win, but when Gilbert turns him down, his pride is hurt so he asks him again so he can embarrass Gilbert. Gilbert says ‘I cannot fight, because I think it is wrong to quarrel, and use violence’ this is exactly the same as Mrs Gaskell’s views on violence and arguing.
This shows that Gilberts is a strict religious man and will do as the bible tells him to. He is turning the other cheek saying that Gilbert will not hit the Sexton no matter what he does to him. Mrs Gaskell makes the reader sympathise with Gilbert for the rest of this section by telling us how he was rejected and shunted by the people of the village who were supposed to be his friends. People called him names like ‘coward’ and ‘Quaker’ (a person who is against violence) in his ear and behind his back.
Even with all of the rejection, Gilbert doesn’t stand down from his belief that fighting is wrong which shows that he is extremely strong mentally. As in the first section, the Sexton now turns sympathetic towards Gilbert, saying ‘After I was married to Letty, I left off hating Gilbert. I even kind of pitied him’ shows the Sexton’s sensitive side again and emphasises the fact that Gilbert has been so isolated because the person who caused it is even feeling sorry for him calling him a ‘poor fellow’ but this also suggests the slightly ignorant side to the Sexton. In the last section, Mrs Gaskell involves the reader a lot emotionally.
She tells the story of how Gilbert went from a physically fit man, to no longer existing. She starts off this section with the sexton setting the scene. He explains how one member of his family was to be married across the bay, and how all of his sisters liked Letty very much. Suddenly the Sexton changes into a very sullen mood, as he starts to tell the story when the ‘rushing tide came up bay’. He starts to use harsh words like ‘whip’ and ‘crushed’ , these words tell us that he was in much distress at the happenings around him, it is showing us that no matter how tough he is on the outside, he can still be scared.
The author carries on to explain how the ‘water was gathering’ around them, ‘I think John.. I think .. I shall never see my baby again! ‘ wails Letty to the Sexton. All around them was commotion, the pig they received from his father was ‘squealing again’, but then, all of a sudden everything seems to stop as they spot Gilbert Dawson riding towards them on a ‘strong bay horse’. Just as the Sexton had been praying before, his prayer was now answered. At this moment Mrs Gaskell uses extremely strong emotional language to make the reader sympathise with Gilbert.
He says ‘You must ride before her, and keep her up. The horse can swim. By God’s mercy I will follow. I can cut the traces, and if the mare is not hampered with the shandry, she’ll carry me safely through. At any rate, you are a husband and a father. No one cares for me. ‘ This extract gives more impact on the reader than any other in the story. It shows us the more confident side of the man we thought was a nervous coward. The last sentence in this extract makes the reader almost feel Gilberts pain. It also makes the Sexton feel extremely guilty for his previous actions towards Gilbert.
Because of his changed attitude towards Gilbert, the Sexton went out that night, waiting and looking for Gilbert. ‘with weary pace did I pace along the brink of the waters’, this shows that no matter what has happened before, he isn’t going to give up hope for Gilbert. This shows a huge contrast to the Sexton that we knew from the beginning of the story. A few days later, ‘he was washed ashore near Flukeborough’ the Sexton explains to the two men. A hero is someone who risks their life for the benefit of someone else.
The Sexton thought that Gilbert was a hero, he saved two lifes and gave a baby a mother and a father for another two years. Reading this story has changed me opinion about hero’s greatly, I now know the difference between a true hero and what most people call a hero.