Analysis of the Go-Between by Ali Smith

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The Go-Between

This short story is about a 33-years-old African man craving to cross the strait between Africa and Europe in order to enter Spain. He's a refugee from Cameroun living now in a Spanish city in Morocco where he helps people like him to get over the border. He used to be microbiologist in a university, he has some knowledge in medicine and is able to speak several languages. He can so help the French doctors and act as a mediator between them and the refugees. He tried himself to cross the border a couple of times but didn't make it to Spain. It results from these attempts that he lost the top of his ear and his third finger caught in the fence.

The short story is written in the first person, it is so based on the narrator’s point of view and directly involves the reader into the protagonist’s thoughts which are reported in a concise way. The language register used is neutral ; the protagonist describes in a conversational English with short sentences in a simple and abrupt way, slightly lacking of emotion and talking about common and everyday things. His descriptions don’t feature many details. At some points in the text, the narrator directly addresses the reader by often using the pronoun “you” and with insertions such as “Do you know what Europe is ?”. Besides, the absence of stylistic device and the clarity of the sentences should make the text easy to understand but the flow of writing is hard to follow because it is very uncoordinated. The text is indeed a stream of consciousness riddled with flashbacks and having no order. The story is a mix of drama and comedy. For example, the main character depicts the tragic life of refugees trying to cross the border and, at the same time, makes fun of himself by giving himself the nickname of “Professor Me”. This touch of irony might be used by the protagonist to hide the tragedy of his own life. The protagonist had a rough past and witnessed the torture done to the people who tried to cross...
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