Compass and Torch

Topics: Family, Father, Fiction Pages: 5 (1832 words) Published: June 18, 2011
Compass and Torch
The short story Compass and Torch is written by the writer Elizabeth Baines. The short story is told in present time and the narrator is a third person narrator. The theme in the shore story is the relationship between father and son – a theme that the whole short story is based on.

In the short story we are told about four different characters; the boy, the father, the mother and the stepfather. The four characters are very different from each other and the writer has managed to create four strong characters, which is a fact that gives the reader an opportunity to label the characters personalities.

The mother in the short story is clearly a loving and carrying person. She is divorced from her former husband and she is now trying to create a new and secure environment for her son to grow up in. She has found Jim, a new partner of life, and through Jim she is trying to give her son a new role model, because her son’s biological father in some how have failed his role as a father figure and for some reason has managed to spent as little time with his son as possible: The first in four month he has his eight-yaer-old son (……). The mother is very concerned by the fact that her son and her son’s father are going on a tent trip, the mother’s instincts are telling her that the trip is too impulsive and too dangerous. But because of her sons excitement about the trip she swallows her worries, because her son’s happiness means the world to her.

The mother’s new partner, Jim, is also a person who appears, as he is very interested in doing everything to please his partner’s son. In the short story there is a time where Jim asks to see the son’s torch and even though Jim properly is able to feel the little boy’s reservation against him, he do not seem to be affected by this fact, he keeps on showing interest for the boy’s equipment, in spite of the fact that the boy in some how has given him the cold shoulder: But Jim is not his father.

The son’s biological father is very different from both the mother and the mother’s new partner. In the beginning of the short story it appears as the father is interested in getting to know his son better – he has arranged this exiting trip and it is now obvious that he, in spite of the missteps in his past, are willing to fill up the role as the boy’s father. But later in the short story we get to know the father a little better and suddenly he seems to be a quite disappointing and failing character – a characterization that is identical to the impression the mother gave us in the short story’s beginning. The father utterly seems as a person, who has no idea of how to handle the role as a father, I am sure that he truly wishes to be a father to the little boy, but he is just unable to succeed.

The boy, who I will choose to call the short story’s main character, is only eight years old, but disquieting grown up by his age. He won’t accept Jim as a father replacement and therefore he pushes Jim away. His biological father on the other hand, is the boy’s idol. It is very obvious that the boy looks up to his father and tries to forget the father’s previous failure, hoping that the tent trip will give them an opportunity to rebuild the long lost father-son relationship. The boy is similar to a number of boys in his age; he idolizes his father and fights desperately to achieve his father’s attention. At the trip the boy’s reactions/feelings also show as a result of the father’s reactions/feelings; (……) Then he groans: ‘I didn’t bring a compass.’ The boy’s eyes are suddenly wide with fear and dismay: not with the notion that they’ll get lost, but because of the way the man’s shoulders slumped and the tent in his hand dropped back onto the boot floor. But then the man says quickly, almost brightly, ‘Never mind!’ (……) The boy breathes relief. I’ve got a compass,’ he cries, ‘and guess what, I forgot mine too!’ A fact which also indicates how much the little boy looks up to his...
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