Previous Good Conduct Essay

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Previous Good Conduct
Essay Question: Describe your feelings towards an important character in one text. Explain, giving detailed reasons, why you felt this way.

In the short story Previous Good Conduct, written by author Ruth Thomas, the protagonist stands out particularly; that is the character of the mother left at home to look after the children. She is portrayed as a woman who holds very peculiar views and her actions and thoughts are quite unreasonable. There are three important parts to the short story that are relative to the protagonist. These are: the first few sentences that show her initial attitude to life, the flashbacks that show her negative views towards her children and lastly the way in which she convinces herself of the reasoning behind her actions.

In the first part of the short story, Previous Good Conduct, the protagonist’s attitude towards life seems very blasé. She is also painted as a person that deals with her emotions by hurting others, such as her nearly four year old son Bobby. She seems blasé because in the first few sentences, her living area is described as very untidy and it seems unrealistic that a mother would ignore the mess and her children. It is untidy because there were ‘cornflakes crunching under her slippers’, ‘a trickle of milk running down the leg of the highchair’, and a ‘nappy resting where she had dropped it’. The protagonist doesn’t seem to be doing anything during this time, other than surveying the scene. The reader first discovers her fast changing anger levels when she screams ‘dirty little pig’ at her young, three year old son when he licks mucous that is running down his nose. This action seems to be very inordinate, seeing as her son is a young boy that wouldn’t understand what is wrong with his actions. Overall, the first impression of the protagonist is an odd one, due to her unpredictable actions.

Throughout this short story, the protagonist has many flashbacks; that give the impression that she...
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