The Problem with Oliver
I recently heard a quotation from a pediatrician who was stating: “It is ten times more difficult being a child than an adult, due to the many possibilities and choices you ought to be making”. Now, my own thesis on this is, when you are a teenager, you can multiply the diffuculty by a factor of fifty. A lot of young people find it very strenous taking the last step towards adulthood and their own independence. Especially when you have parents that, unconsciously or not, do not allow you to do so.
The main theme in this short-story does also circle about the big leap from, in your adolescence, relying on your parents to, in your adulthood, become an independant individual with the right of self-determination. The story takes place during the late winter months in Southwold, Suffolk County in South Eastern England. Southwold is a seaside town, and we meet the protagonist, Fionnuala, at the beach of which we get an impression she is quite fond of. She is seven and three-quarter weeks away from her first A-level exam, and she is sitting and calculating very neatly on how to organize her reading period. But she has more than just one concern. Suddenly comes Oliver, to whom Fionnuala has a relationship, and breaks her stream of consciousness. He is symbolizing her (sexual) instincts. They can only meet in a rush because Fionnuala’s mother, Grainne, must not become suspicious. Fionnuala believes, Grainne has a bias against her meeting English boys. Grainne is symbolizing Fionnuala’s reason and obligations. The exposition in the story is Fionualla’s growing frustration because she is torn between her instincs and her reason.
Grainne is charachterized in a strange manner. An Irish potter infatutated with Irish folklore, and a hostile behaviour towards the surrounding society. Even though it is a third-person narrator, we mostly hear things from Fionnuala’s point-of-view. And symptomatically for her age, she feels a strong alienation...
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