Analysis of "Loose Change" by Andrea Levy

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Analysis of “Loose Change” by Andrea Levy
Our world consists of multiple cultures and ethnicities, which makes it difficult for people to understand a culture different from their own. The cultural gap between nations is deep and therefore western people, who are protected from many of the cruel facts of life feel scared and uncomfortable when these facts come too close, which is what the story “Loose Change” is about. The story is about local identity in opposition to ethnicity and focuses on the unfairness in which people in need of help is treated.

In the short story “Loose Change” we meet the female main character – the I-narrator – who is helped out by a foreign woman in the restroom at a gallery when she is in need of coins for the tampon machine. When she asks for help the foreign woman was the only one staying, while all the other typical Londoners left. The woman, Laylor is in story referenced to as “she” (1. 11), which implies that she has a certain importance for the main character and the whole story. The main character invites Laylor for a cup of tea, because she wants to give her the money back in some way. At this point the main character assumes Laylor is an emigrant from Spain because of her accent. Once they arrive at the café they meet Laylor’s brother with whom Laylor has a discussing with in their native language. As the conversation develops between the women the main character is told by Laylor that she and her brother are political refugees from Uzbekistan and are now homeless in London. After the main character learns about Laylor’s situation she sees her from a different perspective. Even though the main character ponders how she could help Laylor and her brother, she leaves the café and Laylor on her own.

The story is set in the National Gallery of London where the women meet in the restroom this leads the main character to believe that Laylor is a woman from another European country who might be there on holiday or another similar reason, at least not to be a refugee from an Asian country and being poor and homeless. In The National Gallery one usually expects to meet upper-middle class persons and not poor art interested people. If the two women had met in the streets the main character would have realized Laylor’s background sooner. Through the story there is shown no development in the main character, which is unusual seen in stories. The reason why she shows no development is because she suddenly chooses to leave Laylor alone and go back out into the cold where the story began. The main character stands in great contrast to the immigrant Laylor. Their differences show the divergence and differences of classes which might lead to prejudices towards other people from unfamiliar societies. The main character’s thoughts reflect her geographical and cultural unawareness “Uzbekistan, she said. Was that the Balkans? I wasn’t sure” (l. 58). This shows that Uzbekistan is a country that has not captured her interest before, so it is possible for her to make her own prejudice and judgment of the foreign place and also the stranger Laylor. The portrait that Laylor likes in the gallery and the main character believes is dreadful, does for Laylor symbolize hope and dreams coming true. The fact the two characters have so different views on the painting symbolizes the differences between them and their two cultures. Since the main character is the I-narrator we hear her thoughts, points of view and inner conflict when she tries to decide whether to help Laylor or not. She describes herself as a typical Londoner, an unapproachable person that does not make friends with strangers or even approaches them if absolutely necessary. She has grown up in a classic European city culture, where people have the tendency of minding their own business. She combines herself with a city culture, which involves being careless, rejecting and unfriendly. As a result of the unfriendly city culture the main...
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