How does Russell present theme through his characters in Our day out
Willy Russell the author of Our Day Out has had his equal share of scrapes and he bases this onto some of his characters in our day out like the very unfortunate Carol Chandler who we see first out of the pupils and she has come to school with her school uniform which we read in the script doubles as her Sunday best clothes and a plastic bag with all her school stuff in and by this we can see that the youth of Liverpool in the late 1970’s because of the employment crisis which put 3 and a half million people out of jobs. With this we see that the first themes is presented Deprivation and isolation with Carol because it isn’t obvious that she has any friends and she is alone on her way to school and she is deprived of a school bag like the rest of the pupils and not even any proper Sunday best clothes because she has to use her school uniform.
Other themes will be introduced throughout this essay. When Carol enters the school gates there is a scene of chaos as a new character Mrs Kay is introduced with a crowd of pupils around her trying to all get her attention because they are going on a trip that day and even if some haven’t paid they still get to go. Mrs Kay has an immediate theme of kindness because of the way she neglects any memory of the school rules and disobeys the fact that school trips have to be paid for. There is an all over contrast throughout the play when the setting goes from urban to a rural setting and later on well see a contrast of personality from Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs.
When the children are filed onto the bus there is a blockade at the door in the shape of Ronnie Sutcliffe who stops them in their tracks because he doesn’t trust a bunch of rowdy kids who don’t look like they’ve had a decent meal in months and wants them checked for lemonade and chocolate but Mrs Kay talks to him lies through her teeth and says that they are more deprived than they actually are that they have never had a decent home and that they had never tasted luxury like chocolate and lemonade but when she gets on the bus the pupils are guzzling lemonade by the litres and scoffing down chocolate and they quickly disappear when Ronnie gets back on and he even offers to buy the kids more sweets just shows how gullible bus drivers are.
There is a real strong feeling of aggression when Reilly and Digga start smoking but that’s the attitude of older pupils that think they can get away with bullying smaller kids. Throughout the entire play we have a real feeling of nihilism, which basically means deprivation for the pupils, and even some of the teachers because they are all affected by the employment crisis. With Carol she is quite innocent during the play because she has no friends and she stays with Mrs Kay for most of the time because she feels safe and she feels the fact that deprivation has nearly ruined her live as well as anyone else there and she doesn’t want to go back to that life and she wants to stay in Wales where its nicer than her home but she doesn’t really know what she’s going to do with herself because she has never had the chance to fend for herself so she wouldn’t really like it in Wales any more than she enjoys it in Liverpool.
During the trip the bus stops first at a cafe then at a zoo Briggs is in anger mood as usual at both locations but even more at the zoo because after one of the children showed any remote signs of intelligence Briggs puts him down again back into a remedial state but some intelligence still remains as the children start to take animals from the petting zoo with the feeling that they are prisoners and they are freeing them and when the zoo keepers start to take them back Mr Briggs really blows a gasket and completely erupts like a volcano and completely puts down one when they tried to explain the feelings of the group he blows all trust in them out the window and will never take it back again.
During the school trip the pupils used humour as a basic defence mechanism a kind of shield on reality so they don’t have to bare the complete truth but in a way the reality is inescapable near the end of the trip at Conway castle Carol disappears for a while wishing that she didn’t have to eventually go home back to reality and when Mr Briggs finally finds her we see a contrast and we see him go from Briggs the man that could hate every child in the world to Briggs the man that could love and care about every child in the world we also see a contrast with Mrs Kay were she has given up hope on the kids and they will become nothing more than factory fodder and that’s that.
Russell puts these several themes across in many ways from the way the characters speak to the stage directions that move them with quotes like Mrs Kay: “Teach them? Teach them what? You’ll never tech them because nobody knows what to do with them.” And Mr Briggs saying: “The minute we start to treat you like real people, what happens? That man was right, you act like animals, animals!” the part of the quote highlighted shows that the pupils are classed as people who are not taken seriously and not allowed to be called real people and then there’s a contrast with Briggs and Mrs Kay goes back to the nice one again.
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