To compare and contrast three short stories from the anthology

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I am going to write about three short stories from the anthology which deals with the theme of relationship and loss; I will compare and contrast these three stories showing how the writer uses language and structure to convey these ideas. Firstly, out of the first three stories I chose, ‘Flight’ by Doris Lessing, it is about a grandfather who is reluctant to let go of his granddaughter.

Secondly I chose ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snow’ Suit by Sylvia Plath, this story is an autobiographical account of Plath’s childhood and how she is blamed for something she did not do.

Lastly I chose ‘Your Shoes’ by Michele Roberts; this story is about a mother who is upset because her daughter has run away All three stories have the theme of relationship and loss. In ‘Flight’ there is a relationship between the grandfather and his granddaughter and the loss of his granddaughter as she is getting married. In ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit’, Plath talks about her relationship with her uncle and mother and the loss of her child hood because of what happens with Paula Brown and what is happening around the world during the time of her childhood.

In ‘Your Shoes’ the relationship is between the mother and her daughter, husband and her mother. The theme of loss in the story come from the daughter running away and the mother feeling she has lost her. There is symbolism used in ‘Flight’ and ‘Your Shoes’ but not in ‘Superman’ to show relationship. In Flight the grandfather’s favourite pigeon was a representation of his granddaughter, what he does to his pigeon is what he wants to do to his granddaughter for example the grandfather wants to keep Alice and doesn’t want to let her go, this shown when he ‘shuts the bird into a small box and fastened the bolt’ (Line 20-21).

Also near the end of the story when the grandfather releases his favourite pigeon he releases his granddaughter as accepts that it is her life. I think Lessing used the grandfather’s favourite pigeon as a symbol for his granddaughter because they are both liked very much by the grandfather and both the pigeon and Alice are in similar situations, Alice wants to go with Steven and the pigeon wants to fly away, however they are both stopped by the Grandfather, furthermore this is showing the Grandfather’s relationship with Alice in a hidden way to make the story more interesting..

This symbolism is similar to the symbolism used in Your Shoes. In Your Shoes a pair of shoes symbolises the mother’s daughter and the relationship. This can be seen on line eleven where the mother says, ‘I locked the wardrobe door on those rebellious shoes’, from this it can be said the mother is talking about her daughter because the shoes are personified as they are said to be ‘rebellious’ which could be a way to describe her daughter. This also shows that the mother and the daughter don’t have a very good relationship as the shoes are ‘locked’ away.

The mother is also very attached to the shoes like the grandfather is with the pigeon in Flight, as she holds and puts ‘them under the duvet… keeping an eye on them’. This shows that she is missing her daughter and maybe her relationship wasn’t too good with her daughter. Plath in ‘Superman’ also uses the technique of symbolism; this symbolism is between Plath’s uncle in the story and Superman, ‘Superman invaded my dreams……. looking remarkably like my uncle Frank. At the beginning of the story she idealised her uncle Frank, because he looked like Superman, she trusted her uncle and felt secure around him, ‘Uncle was the strongest man’.

There relationship at the beginning was a strong and good relationship. However near the end of the story there relationship is broken due to the lack of trust, when her Uncle doesn’t believe her what happened to Paula Brown’s new snow suit, ‘tell me what really happened’. Plath also shows loss and relationship through other forms of language and structure such as imagery and colour which she thinks is more effective for her story. Plath uses colour remarkably well to show loss and relationship. Plath’s childhood is shown through imagery and colour to be a splendid vivid dream world.

Words which refer to colour are used such as ‘Technicolor dreams’, ‘flashing red and green lights’. When bright colours are used this shows that she is happy and her relationship between her uncle and mother is good and that everything is positive and cheerful. However when dark colours are used such as black and grey, they create a dingy atmosphere showing that either her relationship with her mum or uncle is not good or she is distressed or sad creating an atmosphere of lost. The dark colours are especially used to show the real world of torture, war and pain,’ the colossal blackboard of the dark.

That was the year the war began and the real world’. Repetition is also used to emphasize the point about reality in ‘Superman’, ‘this is real, this really happened’. This is said by Plath, after watching the war movie. She was horrified by this which makes her face up to the harshness of the real world. Lessing also uses imagery and colour in ‘Flight’ to show relationship and loss. She uses imagery when the grandfather describes his granddaughter, ‘Her hair fell down her back in wave of sunlight, and her long bare legs repeated the angles of the frangipani stems, bare, shining-brown stems among patterns of pale blossoms’.

This shows that the grandfather care and loves his granddaughter very much as positive words are used. Also he uses words that create light and are colourful, ‘shining-brown’ and ‘pale blossoms’, which shows that he cherishes his granddaughter as bright and colourful colours that have connotations of good. This is idea is similar to Plath in ‘Superman’. Also imagery is used in ‘Flight’ to show loss, ‘pale in the cold shadow’, this tells us that Alice is feeling sad as she realises what she is loosing because the imagery creates darkness, ‘shadow’ and the word ‘cold’ is used which creates a sad atmosphere.

Also there are images that show freedom of the birds, which really symbolizes the freedom of Alice, ‘silver birds flew up and up……… They wheeled in a wide circle’. The intention of this is to create a feeling of freedom, which is created by the words, ‘flew up and up’, this creates the image of a vast and infinite space of land where you are free to go wherever you want, also the ‘wide circle’ is used which creates the image of a large area, where one can move about freely.

On the other hand Roberts does not use colour in ‘Your Shoes’, to show relationship and loss, but she does use imagery. She uses imagery to show that the mother in the story cares for her daughter very much, ‘I wrap my arms around myself and hold tight it keeps the pain in’. It mentions pain so this tells us she is hurt by the fact her daughter has run away, therefore it tells us she cares for her daughter a lot. Also in the story the mother says, ‘I’ve tied your shoes’ laces together so they won’t get separated or lost’. This shoes loss between the mother and daughter.

The shoes’ laces tied together symbolises a mother and daughter so they ‘won’t get separated or lost’. This creates a sense of loss, as the mother and daughter are not ‘tied’ together as they should be. Lessing, unlike Plath and Roberts also uses alliteration to show relationship. ‘His fingers curling like claws into his palm’, this action is done by the granddad when the name Steven is mentioned. This highlights claws which is sharp and dangerous, also the movement of ‘curling like claws’ is similar to a clenched fist, which shows anger and dislike.

This tells the reader that the granddad does not have a good relationship with Steven. After comparing and contrasting the three short stories I believe that ‘Flight’ by Lessing shows the theme of relationship and loss best. She uses a range of structures and language to convey these ideas. Her interest in psychology has led to her writing in a very understanding way in the area of self-analysis; she is able to write about other peoples feeling more realistically, this why her stories are very understanding.

She uses imagery, colour, alliteration, symbolism and other techniques to show relationship and loss, which I thought was used best by Lessing. However Plath and Roberts did use language and structure to show relationship and loss but most importantly I thought the way Lessing used it was the most effective because it can be seen easily and it keeps the story interesting using different types of language and structure, especially the imagery which is very clear to imagine and understand.

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