Hieroglyphics by Eilidh Stewart
“Hieroglyphics” is a short story written by Scots writer Anne Donavan. The story is humorous but also portrays a serious message about dyslexia and the struggle the main character Mary has coping with this learning difficulty whilst dealing with an unsupportive family, lack of educational support and a continuous loss of friends. The writer conveys these problems through various techniques such as imagery, use of language, key incidents, and mode of narration, to give a more visual understanding of her circumstances resulting I the reader feeling sympathy for Mary. Sympathy for Mary is almost immediately felt from the opening paragraph. In the first paragraph the reader is informed of Mary being dyslexic. This opening gives the reader a better understanding of the impact her dyslexia is having on her. “Ah mind they were birlin and dancing roond like big black spiders. A couldnae keep a haunle on them fur everytime ah thoat ah’d captured them, tied them theigither in some kindy order they jist kept on escaping.” Anne Donovan uses imagery in the form of a simile to show Mary’s struggle when trying to grasp the understanding of certain words . The words such as ‘birlin’ and ‘dancin’ is used to personify Mary’s lack of control she has over the words on the piece of paper. The comparison of the words to spiders shows that the words are obvious and she fears them. ‘tying them together’ suggests her struggle to write a simple word down. Overall, this first paragraph was an effective introduction to Mary’s dyslexia. This is because it clearly shows Mary’s dissatisfaction with being dyslexic and how hard it is making her everyday life. This therefore demonstrates how awareness of Mary’s learning difficulty evokes sympathy to be felt by the reader. Mary is evidently struggling in primary school because of her dyslexia but further sympathy is felt by the reader when they discover how unsupportive and unsympathetic Mary’s mother is when she is informed Mary is struggling in school. “She’s lazy ye mean.”
This reaction suggests that Mary’s Mother does not recognise the problem and is attempting to make up narrow-minded excuses for why Mary is struggling and not face the truth which is Mary has a learning difficulty. Furthermore, evidence is shown that Mary’s mother is unsupportive and unsympathetic of Mary. “Ma Mammy thoat a wis daft, naw, no the way wee Helen fae doon the street wis.” This conveys that Mary’s mother can tell there is something wrong with Mary but does not do anything to help Mary it is as if she blames Mary for her dyslexia and is punishing her by being unsupportive. Donovan strongly sets the scene of sympathy towards Mary for successfully showing the little support she acquires from her Mother making the reader feel sympathetic. Another aspect of the story which evokes sympathy to be felt towards Mary is the ‘special’ treatment she receives from her teachers throughout primary and secondary school. “Maisty the time the teacher gied me the colourin in tae dae an when ah wis in primary seven ah goat tae run ae the messages an helped oot wi the wee wans. No wi their reading of course but getting their paints mixed an takin them tae the toilet an pitting oot the mulk for them.” This shows the ‘special’ treatment Mary has received all the way through primary. Although this special treatment was not extra attention from her teachers or being pushed to do her best it was instead being given simple tasks with underestimate her and do not require much thought. Mary says how she does not help the nursery children with their reading which shows Mary does not even have the reading ability of a nursery pupil and that she is not pushing herself to do her best as nobody else has pushed her before for example her mother and her school teachers. This evokes a lot of sympathy for Mary as it shows her vulnerability, lack of confidence and insecurity which all is because of her dyslexia. Another...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document