The short story, Visitors, by Brian Moon, explores the moral issues associated with the legalisation of robbery. Many elements, known as narrative conventions, are intentionally inscribed into the text and these help the reader to ascertain the nature of the texts themes. Style, characterisation and point of view are critical blocks with which the texts theme is constructed.
The text makes effective application of third person, from the omniscient point of view of Mrs Morrison. The use of this technique gives us an insight into Mrs Morrisons feelings and emotions – and reveals that however commonplace and normal the events may seem, they are still a cause of unrest and discomfort.
As the unidentified van pulls into Mrs Morrisons home, we are told that she feels her stomach tighten. This can be quite puzzling, as the van appears perfectly respectable and could easily be a delivery, tradesperson or even a visiting friend. Yet we feel suspense at the approach of the van and its occupants as we have already observed Mrs Morrisons reaction.
Through our position from the mind of Mrs Morrison, we can further understand her and the time and place in which she lives, as well as appreciate why she reacts as she does.
The characterisation utilized questions all our accustomed stereotypical views of burglars, police and victims. We anticipate each of these groups of people to behave a certain way, and are perplexed at finding what we expect and what they truly are to be binary opposites. Mrs Morrison, as the victim of a robbery, we might expect to express anger, fear or defiance.
To the contrary, although she is uncomfortable, irritated and despondent, that is the full extent of her emotion, most of which is only discovered through the point of view employed. When the leader of the three (burglars) invites Mrs Morrison upstairs for the inspection, she unhappily acquiesces, though reluctantlywith a sad glance (pg. 8 Visitors). We sympathise with her, as we are reading from her perspective, and experience with her the exasperation that she feels at having strangers, however well mannered, in her home, taking her belongings.
Neat suit, professional attitude, competent air. These are all used to describe the lead burglar. He is friendly and thoughtful throughout and presents himself as a good example for his line of work. Our typecast views are consequently fighting with the mans amicable and even likable personality. He trusts his co-workers to do their job efficiently and without his supervision, and lets them get on with it while he shares scones and (small) talk with Mrs Morrison. The description of the police is possibly the most disturbing. We place a great deal of trust into our law enforcers, and as a result, learning that they are unhygienic, irreverent and dishevelled is quite a shock.
A prime case of successful style execution is the use of multiple adjectives to give extra information on the noun to which it is describing. In the robbers case, these are always used in a neutral to positive light and essentially mirror each other in meaning. suggested tidiness and precision professional, competent (pg. 7). precise, deferential deliberately, methodical (pg. 8). In these and other instances, we are given the distinct impression that we should be in awe of and respect the robbers, because of the proficiency with which they complete their job. Although different words have been used, what they indicate is quite clear: professionalism of the highest quality. Complimentary as these words are, they are quite impersonal and as such do not greatly reflect these characters personalities.
Throughout the text, the relations between the intruder and the intruded are kept polite and strictly professional. These formal interactions, though all robbers make an effort to be and appear friendly, remain cold and distant. This has likely come from the anonymity and impersonality called for by their particular avenue of occupation. Right through the text, although given ample opportunity for self-expression, we see little of the robbers character, and as true professionals, only see that which is favourable. Not knowing any personal details of the robbers ensures that we do not warm too greatly towards them. We need to remember that they are invading her home and despite the legislation, this remains a discomforting notion.
Overall, this text makes light of many serious matters, predominantly that of questionable government decisions, (i.e. the legislation) and home invasion. We are placed in a position as which to wonder upon morals and values, if robbery is within the law and anyone is entitled to do so, is it still
wrong? The conventions of point of view, characterisation, style, setting and plot all set the themes for this text, sure to generate plenty discussion.
Moon, Brian. (no date). ‘Visitors’ published with other short stories in the text ‘Literature Shorts’