The whole town’s sleeping Essay
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‘ Also the description of the man is fairly long due to the list of adjectives, ‘thin, haggard, long-haired, young, sunken and fiercely’. As the stories progress the use of the first person narrative in A Terribly Strange Bed becomes extremely effective at showing the feelings of the character, as the tension reaches it’s climax. This means that the reader builds up a close relationship with the character. Whereas, in The Whole Town’s Sleeping the reader’s feelings about the actions of Lavinia are more complex.
The reader starts to will the maidens along to the safety of their homes, but their feelings are complicated by the cavalier attitude of Lavinia to the danger. At many points in the story she refuses to compromise their plans in order to take a safer option to reduce the danger e. g. they could have missed the movie, gone straight home after the movie, stayed together, and Lavinia could have avoided going through the ravine or she could have allowed Officer Kennedy to accompany her.
This attitude may induce a reaction of respect, frustration or a sense of ‘she gets what she deserves’ from the reader towards Lavinia. It is easier to explain sinister motives in the first person, for example when the soldier is ordering another bottle of wine, the character wonders whether this is to get him drunk, whereas in the The Whole Town’s Sleeping the motives of Lavinia are never analysed within the story but are left for the reader to interpret. This again shows a large contrast between the third and first person writing styles for creating an atmosphere of fear.
There is a clearer picture created through the language of A Terribly Strange Bed, it makes the theme of the story a lot more obvious which helps set a scene for the events later in the night. In the Whole Town’s Sleeping there are more subtle sinister hints. The druggist comments “Sure look pretty tonight,” and “You looked cool this noon, Miss Lavinia, when you was in here for chocolates. So cool and nice that someone asked after you. ” by using these comments the author is suggesting that Lavinia is drawing the interest of men.
Her appearance is getting her both open and possibly welcome attention, leading to compliments from the town’s folk giving her the status of most attractive female in the town but also more surreptitious, unwelcome awareness from strange men. The author little by little increases the atmosphere of tension with the fact that the druggist has provided Lavinia’s unknown, male observer with her address. The stupidity of the action is emphasised in the story by the druggist trying to compensate Lavinia with sweets, “He handed over the package, much too full.
” , No charge for those peppermints. ” Also the author uses the word “nothing” three times giving the implication that providing the address was in fact quite a major part of the plot. As the story of A Terribly Strange Bed unfolds, the author is able to make use of the first person narrative to introduce the main character. As the character describes events throughout the story, we are able to make judgements as well as gain the characters perspective of himself. In A Terribly Strange Bed we get a brief history of the character’s background and last few years experiences.
This knowledge of the character helps in creatingapprehension later as the reader has already grown to like and understand the subject, making the audience more concerned about his situation. In The Whole Town’s sleeping the actions of Lavinia are less easy for the reader to understand, we are not sure why she makes brave, possibly irresponsible decisions and actions and this can cause conflict in the feeling of the reader towards her. We are not provided with any personal history concerning Lavinia and so she remains quite distant.
This gives the reader a more objective and clear perspective of the character. The author may be trying to make the point that women should not need to live in intimidation of the more powerful male. In the 1950’s, when the play was written females did not have a strong role in society. Most women worked at relatively menial jobs until they got married and then they would leave the workforce to stay at home to care for the home, the children and the husband. There was a certain stigma for women to not follow the norm and to get married. Amongst women there was a fear of ‘being left on the shelf’.
The author has created Lavinia’s character as one that is slightly apart from the accepted. She is a maiden and is not intimidated by the threat from the male, but she stands up to it, however, at the end of the story the wisdom of this is put very much in question. Finally, at the climax in A terribly Strange Bed, where the character is beginning to realise the bed is moving down to suffocate him, the text is actually the man’s thoughts and a number of first person specific writing techniques are used effectively to bring the fearful atmosphere to a climax..
The first of these is the use sentences of differing lengths. This passage is a good example: “Good God1 The man had pulled his hat down on his brows – No! – the hat itself had gone! Where the feathers – three white, two green? Not there! In place of the hat and the feathers, what dusky object was it that now hid his forehead, his eyes, his shading hand? ” This is effective as it demonstrates the rapid thought pattern of someone who is scared, leaving sentences unfinished and quickly changing subject.
Another technique to emphasise the bizarre nature of the events is the questioning of himself. “Was I ma? Drunk? Dreaming? Giddy again? Or was the top of the bed really moving down. ” Once the reader is certain that the bed is actually moving the author returns to the ‘surely not’ attitude which makes the reader want to climb into the story and hurry up the escape by pulling the character from the bed. Because the bed is threatening him the character describes the bed like an evil persona.
The bed is described with sinister terms “sinking slowly”, regularly, silently, horribly”. Together all these techniques create an effective climax, brimming with fear and suspense. The climax happens before the end of the story and there is a conclusion to the story, where normality returns, this consists of a full explanation of the actions including the police involvement and the details of the bed mechanism. This is in contrast to The Whole Town’s Sleeping where the story ends on the most climatic note, “Behind her, in the black living-room, someone cleared his throat…
” Before the climax in Whole Town’s Sleeping Ray Bradbury also uses language style to built up tension. Once Lavinia leaves her friends her confidence also deserts her, counting is used to set the reader willing her to the ‘safety’ of her home. It is prophetic that she remembers a story, “The story about the man coming in your house and you upstairs in bed. “, a dread held by all women, again this emphasises the vulnerability of women. The author also uses repetition of words to give the impression of Lavinia’s heart racing, “I can run’ I can run!
” Short sentences are used to describe Lavinia’s arrival at her home. “The door opened. ‘Now inside. Slam it! ‘” this makes the story run faster, building suspense. The franticness of her actions stops when she is in the house and all measures have been taken to secure the door. “The music stopped. ” The reader is starting to relax. Lavinia has made it to the ’emphasised’ safety of home. The word safe is used repeatedly (fourteen times), in her thoughts of being back at home. The over use of the word safe starts to contradict its actual meaning creating dramatic irony.
As she calms down she starts to question her fear, but is still glad that her journey is over and that she is back in the so-called ‘safety’ of her home. The ending is left to the imagination of the reader knowing that she is now locked in her ‘safe’ house with a mysterious strange man in the dark room. 1 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 Miscellaneous section.