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UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND PRESS

The Spare Room Kathryn Lomer

Teachers’ Notes
ISBN: 978 07022 3477 4 / AU$18.95 Summary Structure Characters Discussion Drama About the Author 2 2 2 3 4 4

These notes may be reproduced free of charge for use and study within schools but they may not be reproduced (either in whole or in part) and offered for commercial sale.

Staff House Road St Lucia QLD 4067 Australia

PO Box 6042 St Lucia QLD 4067 Australia

Ph: (+61 7) 3365 2606 Fax: (+61 7) 3365 7579

uqp@uqp.com.au www.uqp.com.au

University of Queensland Press ABN 63 942 912 684

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UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND PRESS
Summary: Akira, a disappointment to his father, is sent to a language school in Australia in the expectation that although he failed to gain entrance to a university in Tokyo, he could learn a skill of use to the family business. It becomes a pivotal time in the young Japanese student’s life. The relaxed Tasmanian lifestyle opens new vistas; the exciting teaching methods of his new teacher inspires a latent love of, and ability in, language; the structure of his new ‘Australian family’ and that of his new Australian-Greek friend Stolly, provides a sense of possibilities for his own life. There are, however, undercurrents tugging his homestay family apart and Akira is an unwitting catalyst for near disaster. It is a beautifully understated coming-of-age novel that explores the process of grieving, cross-cultural understanding and friendship. Structure: The story of his time in Hobart is told by Akira, back home from Australia, in a letter to his friend, Satoshi. By using this device the author sets up and maintains one point of view (his own) and a past tense perspective that allows some backtracking and explanation of motives and perceptions. It is a device that works well as readers are given space in the text to fill in their understanding of each of the situations Akira filters through his own perceptions. At the same time it supplies, by implication, one of the results of Akira’s experience even though that will not be recognized as such until the story is told. Readers can then enjoy a sense of completion as the ending becomes apparent from remembering the introductory chapter. Characters: Akira develops as a character throughout the story as he gradually reveals himself to the reader through a combination of action and both internal and external dialogue. The external dialogue is controlled by his, at first, inadequate English language skills before becoming more confident: You often want to say something entirely different but you are limited to the vocabulary you know and you have to try to construct something from the little that you have. A bit like trying to make a salad when you only have braising vegetables, or trying to build a boat using only nails. You get kind of warped into the shape of the words you know. There is a big gap between what you think and what you say… For a while that person was trapped inside a new language. p.43 Events outside his control shape Akira’s personal learning curve. The Moffat family are themselves in a state of flux: a personal tragedy has changed their lives; each member of the family reacting differently to it. Collectively they individually hold their grief to themselves. As events force them to face life again in a changed situation, Akira can see them in a new light, more open and embracing. Daisy is the welcoming, open innocent; Alex a man

Staff House Road St Lucia QLD 4067 Australia

PO Box 6042 St Lucia QLD 4067 Australia

Ph: (+61 7) 3365 2606 Fax: (+61 7) 3365 7579

uqp@uqp.com.au www.uqp.com.au

University of Queensland Press ABN 63 942 912 684

3

UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND PRESS
caught in a trap by external events; Jess, his wife turns her back on reality and Angie rages against one and all. Akira’s friend Stolly, and his family, are counterpoints to the dysfunctioning Moffats. Openly loving, cohesive and supportive they...
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