The Road Home by Sylvia Fair tells the story of Rosie a woman with an unnamed mental disability. The short story is about Rosie, tired of the abuse she has suffered at the hands of some delinquents, who taunt her almost every day. She decides to go to the police. The police tell her that the only way to deal with these boys is to charge them; sadly Rosie misunderstands thinking the “kind policeman” meant for her to literally charge the delinquents and desperate to please she does exactly that. Of course when she does this the policeman is not pleased and does not praise her; he is of course angry at her. The story gives a deep insight into Rosie’s mind and through her see the world in whole new light. As in reality it is almost impossible for us to understand what it would be like to live everyday life looking through eyes that see the world in completely different way. This is what is so attractive about Sylvia Fair’s short story; it gives us an insight that under normal circumstances we would never be able to receive.
The Road Home opens with the words “A solid bulge appeared on the skyline of Penwan…” it is very rare in literature for a human being to be described as a “bulge”, but this opening description portrays Rosie as lacking humanity and the ability to convey complex emotions. However, this is not the case; as the story progresses the reader finds out that Rosie is like a child, she cannot understand complex emotions and her own emotions are simple. The author expresses this by employing short simple sentences conveying Rosie’s feelings such as “She felt clumsy.” Rosie’s interpretation of things is childlike. She seems to have picked up the lessons from her childhood and misinterpreted them.
Things such as upon breaking her glasses the reader is told “no matter how much she washed them they still remained broken”. Another example is when a car passes her response is “to watch, to listen, to smell and to think” which brings to mind “Stop, Look, Cross.” She always takes things people say literally. This is a cause of a great deal of frustration for Rosie. She desperately tries to do what is asked of her, for example her experiences in school “Little Rosie squeezed the pencil between her fingers and pressed as hard as she could, so hard that the point broke and the paper tore. And still the teacher nagged her to try harder.” I find this extract incredibly poignant. That sentence alone conveys Rosie’s sufferings, her desperation to please those around her and her frustration when she fails to do this.
Rosie is very loyal to her Beret and her Wellington as a child is loyal to a treasured teddy bear. She almost relies on them “she held her beret down to keep the thoughts in” and “her wellingtons wouldn’t let her leave.” I think the best way to explain this is that Rosie can not see her brain and the beret is the only thing that seems to make sense to her. In the story, as Rosie’s confidence grows she starts to rely on the wellingtons less and less and when towards the end of the story when she loses that confidence she quickly reverts to relying on her wellingtons again. In my mind it almost as if her beret and wellingtons have some kind of parental charm to her, it as almost as if in the absence of her parents she turns to the wellingtons and the beret for protection and care.
Rosie is unable to multitask. This is shown when she is conversing with the police. She gets very upset because she is unable to keep up with everyone shouting at her from so many angles that she can’t cope with it and blocks it all out. It is only when she is spoken to kindly and gently that she is able to calm herself and take in the information.
Fair does not give much description of Rosie’s appearance at all. We know she’s big, as she is described as being a mountain and a great bulk among other things. Though reading the story the reader gets an impression of her taking pride in her appearance. She takes great care of her wellingtons and her beret, although she has tied the belt rather than buckling it again suggesting her inability to perform tasks most adults take for granted. even though it is suggested she lives in a fairly deserted way I think this is not because she does not like company, but maybe because she does not have the confidence and that she finds it easier to converse with only animals and her beret and wellingtons.
At the end of the short story the Road having gained an impression of Rosie’s character and her day to day struggles, it hard not to feel certain empathy towards Rosie. Sylvia Fair affectively describes her desperation for companionship and how the community that she lives in rejects because of her disabilities. Rosie’s story is tragic in the fact that because of her disability she is unable to convey her feelings to those surrounding and therefore must live her life in isolation.