Edward Mayhews, aged 22, is born into a less than affluent family home in the Chiltern Hills in 1940. He lives together with his father Lionel Mayhews, a schoolmaster, and his brain-damaged mother Marjorie Mayhews. His two younger twin sisters are born in 1945. They live in fairly low living conditions due to lack of money, a handicapped mother and a hard-working father who cares for his children to the point of self-sacrifice. Housework is almost never achieved – "The beds were never made, the sheets rarely changed, the handbasin in the cramped, icy bathroom was never cleaned"1, so he is not at all spoilt since he had to help with housekeeping if he had any time left. The lack of money not only deprives him of knowledge on various kinds of food, but also of any experience in travelling. Although he is not used to wealthy circumstances, he does appreciate the costly luxury of the Pontings. He goes to the village school in Northend at the age of six, then Henley grammar school. Edward's life changes when he is fourteen; he has always known indirectly that his mother is different from other parents, but "he grew up into the unremarkable fact of her derangement."2 He is told about his mother's condition and terrible fate in a conversation with his father, when Lionel calls her "brain-damaged"3. Edward considers these words an insult and "a sudden space began to open up"3, and he notices that "one day he would leave, and would return only as a visitor"3 indicating a life-changing experience, or even a process of initiation. His teachers tell him that he would be a candidate to apply to University, and indeed he started studying history at University College in London in 1958 for three years to earn a degree in history, which he mastered easily. This emphasises his intelligence and his interest in history. His activities 1 McEwan, Ian; On Chesil Beach, 2007, Vintage, p. 63 2 McEwan, Ian; On Chesil Beach, 2007, Vintage, p. 65 3 McEwan, Ian; On Chesil...
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