Visitors is a short story written by Brian Moon that is based in an alternate reality. The text uses the conventions of this society to convey the effects of the legalisation of anything in a society. The author’s use and application of narrative conventions, especially Characterisation, Style, Setting and Point of view, help to convey this motif. A limited third person point of view has been used in the construction of Visitors, using a narrator to convey the goings on in the text from Mrs.
Morrison’s perspective. This convention helps us to more readily accept what is happening.
For example, if the events were seen from the perspective the Robber, who completely understands and supports the legalisation of robbery, we would find ourselves skeptical that someone could be so oblivious to the fact that what is happening is wrong, as the beliefs of our society are not reflected in Brian Moon’s alternate reality. However, the result of constructing a text from the point of view of a character who is reluctant to accept nationalised robbery, is that we relate to Mrs.
Morrison more easily because we find her character believable, ‘… he cast a sad glance at the stack of appliances… “I think we’d be better off without… I’m not attacking you, but I just don’t see that it’s really necessary”‘ (P8). This reinforces the idea that – even though robbery is generally accepted in this alternate reality – the victim, Mrs. Morrison, has still been violated.
This man has come into her home, taken her belongings and she has no choice but to allow it to happen. The text has been constructed so that the author’s manipulation of characterisation and the way we perceive the Robber is obvious.
Several aspects of characterisation are used to help us gain a greater understanding of the Robber. For example, his speech implies that he is well educated and polite in nature: ‘… Windows… of course, we break them from the inside so as not to get glass on the furnishings. We can recommend a good glazier, too – real craftsman. I had him do my own place, actually, after we were done over a couple of months back. ‘ (P7). His tone is friendly and casual. This challenges our image of a burglar.
The Robber also acts in a manner that we are not accustomed to imagining when we picture a criminal. ‘He responded to her appearance… by passing pink fingers through his hair… gesture of tidiness and precision. ‘ (P7). These are all gestures of a man who is efficient, business-like and calm. In comparison, when we are introduced to the policemen in the text, they are described the way we would imagine a group of criminals to appear. ‘Early model panel van… disgorging a motley collection of young men… dirty, unkempt, and hardly into their teens… ounded up the steps… hammered at the door… leered at her… ‘ (P8). This is another difference between our two worlds.
The Robber dresses in a fashion that implies a business-like individual, rather than a burglar and the police are described the way a common criminal would appear to us. Mrs. Morrison also comments on his appearance and actions, ‘There was a professional, competent air about him. He looked thoroughly respectable. ‘ (P7). She grudgingly regards the Robber as a professional, but at the same time, we sense that she still feels a bit afraid of him. She felt her stomach tighten at the unfairness of it. Not again; not so soon! ‘ (P7). We sense her anxiety throughout the entirety of the text, and because of it we sympathise with her situation. By ensuring that the Robber has characteristics that we would not normally associate with a burglar, and that the description of the police sets us with an image of the type of person likely to commit criminal acts, we are able to understand some of the effects that nationalised robbery has had on the world described in Visitors.
The action in the text takes place in an alternate reality, set in the home of Mrs. Morrison. We know this because of the information given to us in the text, ‘Saw the mini-bus pass the kitchen window… pulled up on the driveway… she opened the door… ‘ (P7). Mrs. Morrison may have felt anxious or frightened because the prospect of allowing three strange men into her house to take away all her belongings may have made her feel powerless and weak. Because the action is situated in her home, it is possible to assume that she feels threatened by the intrusion.
If she had, instead, been mugged at the park, it’s possible that she may have felt less threatened, as she would be able to go back home where she knew she would be safe. As a result of the intrusion happening inside the one place where she is supposed to feel protected, she may have felt as if she no longer has anywhere to go where she feels secure. In any text, the style the author uses in constructing a narrative is important in helping to convey the main idea. There are many examples within the text of Visitors to support this notion: ‘The knocking was confidents but not intimidating.
Civilised. She opened the door. ‘(P7). If everything really is civilised, then why is Mrs. Morrison afraid? These few words set the tone for the way the burglars act in the text. It also helps to builds suspense over what is behind the door. The author manipulates the last sentence so that it sounds as if she is trying to prepare herself for what is about to happen, which then assists in holding our interest. ‘The phone, however is your responsibility, as always. ‘(P7). This implies that burglary occurs often within their society, which may be a contributing factor of Mrs.
Morrison’s anxiety over her home constantly being invaded. ‘Visitors’ (P7). The title shapes our expectations of the content within the text. We refer to visitors as guests who are welcome in our home and we therefore assume that the ‘visitors’ are welcome. We get an image that the character is at home (stereotypically a female), waiting for their visitors to arrive. The stylistic devices in Visitors are used by the author to convey the effects of the new legislation on this society by reflecting the differences between our two worlds.
The use of setting, point of view, style and characterisation in Visitors aids in constructing the theme. The actions and appearance of the Robber are manipulated by the author to challenge our image of a burglar. This is also true for the way we picture a typical police officer. The fact that the police were described as dirty and unkempt suggests that because of the new legislation, many people have left the force, as they believe that there are greater prospects as a burglar.
Style also helps to define the theme. The title suggested that the ‘visitors’ were welcome which also implied that they should be welcome, while we understand through other stylistic methods, that Mrs. Morrison feels violated by the robbery. Mrs. Morrison’s perspective positions us to more readily accept nationalised robbery and the setting helps us to understand the many ways that legalisation has affected this alternate reality.
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