Module a Clemmance - Distinctive Voices Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender

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Module A –Distinctive Voices
Essay Question: Compare the ways distinctive voices are created in ‘The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender’ and in ONE other related text of your own choosing. As language lies at the core of communication, composers are given the opportunity to use and manipulate written language through the vehicle of distinctive voicesshaping meaning and understanding of the wider world and people within a text. A great range of language techniques are used in my prescribed text, the novel ‘The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender’ by Marele Day and my related text the ‘Sorry Address’ by Kevin Rudd, with each composer using similar forms of language in order to create distinctive voices relating to genre, character and contextual setting. However, the language structures and features used in both texts do differ in some respects as each composer’s manipulation of language differs greatly from another in an attempt to convey their moral values, represent different ideas, attitudes and values in relation to people and the wider world within texts, to challenge society’s expectations and mould audience interpretations and perceptions of particular contexts.

Marele Day’s crime novel, ‘The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender’ manipulates language within text in innovative ways in order for the composer’s authorial voice in relation to relationships and the wider world to be expressed and communicated through different narrative voices. Using two prominent differentiating narrative voices, Day uses the character and voice of the protagonist, Claudia Valentine, and the antagonist, the crime overlord Harry Lavender, to not only juxtapose the nature of the protagonist and antagonist but also to express her realistic concerns about the moral decay of Sydney, to challenge the notion of stereotypes and to question the notion of appearance versus reality.

Opposing the stereotypical ‘hard-boiled’ private investigator through the distinctive voice of a feminized detective, ‘Claudia Valentine’, Day introduces the ambiguity of the world the protagonist inhabits through the use of the simile ‘I woke up feeling like death’. The imagery of alcoholism revealed through ‘Close by the bed was a bottle of Jack Daniels: empty’ and the sexually liberated reference of ‘As I got out of bed I realised I wasn’t the only one in it. There was a good looking blond in there as well’ creates an image of a typical male protagonist. However, the irony that the lead character is in fact a woman undermines the reader’s expectations and shows that Claudia possesses a great number of characteristics associated with the ‘hardboiled’ private investigator. The imagery of ‘My leg poised ready to kick him in the back of the head’ reveals Claudia as being equally determined as her ‘hard-boiled’ male counterparts and also dependent upon her athletic build and physical prowess in contrast to the ‘speeding bullets’ that ‘skip on the surface of the water like stones’ used by her male counterparts. This shows that the voice of Claudia overthrows the stereotypical nature of the feminine stereotype, challenging audience perceptions of females succeeding in the world of crime fiction and the ‘traditional’ role of women in society.

Furthermore, the voice of Claudia Valentine, and many other narrative voices are used by Day to explore the notion of appearance versus reality – with the composer stressing that things are not always as they seem. The notion that people are more complex than they pretend is expressed through the voice of Claudia, as the audience is given the opportunity to see past her unyielding self as a result of her relationship with her ‘angel’ Steve. Using the sexually liberated reference of ‘I’ll slip into something more comfortable, like your bed’ and the first person plural of ‘we’ in the simile ‘We had watched the dawn spread its colours like some shy elusive bird’ shows Claudia’s interest and attraction to Angell as well...
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