Grade 12 Short story Analysis
1. The man hood
The author: John Wain• John Wain (1925) • John Wain, born in Stroke-on-Trent in the north of England, is both a poet and a novelist and a short-story writer. He was also a lecturer in English literature at Reading University from 1949-55. Wain is a prolific writer and has produced four volumes of poetry, six novels, and two collections of short stories as well as works of criticism and an autobiography. His stories are generally concerned with ordinary people faced with the problems and decisions that make everyday life so complex. • Manhood" written by John Wain, a well-known novelist and a distinguished poet. John Wain is a realistic writer, aware of the social problems and the social conflicts of today. The Man hood was published: 1980 as a single short story
Background & Setting:
*The story is set in a rural part of England in the Willison home. *The events take place over 12 to 18 months.
*The story start with the father (Mr Willison) and Son (Rob) on a bicycle ride from the woodland into the open country. The story continues at Mr and Mrs Willison’s house
*The story is told in third person narrator (omniscient)
*Dialogue reveals the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and reasons for acting the way they do. *Colloquial language helps the reader identify with the characters. (“To hell with Baroness Summer skill!”, “All right”)
*The plot revolves around Mr Willison’s obsession with developing Rob’s physique and masculinity. He trains Rob for the boxing tournament. The story builds to a climax as the readers along with Mr Willison, believe Rob is training for the tournament.
Brief summary of plot:
The story deals with the awkward relationship between a father and his son. The father is very ambitious. He wants to make a good athlete from his son because when he was young he had to study, for fear of unemployment. He never had the chance to box or to row; he didn't even get a bicycle. And he doesn't want his son to grow up with the same wretched physical heritage that he grew up with. That's why he doesn't want him to rest for too long on his cycling tour. The son has to try to break his fatigue barrier. The reason for the cycling tour was to give the installer the time to fix up a present Mr. Willison bought for his son: a punch-ball. When they get home, the son, Rob, goes to his room, because his tired. At this point the mother starts protesting because she thinks that it's unhealthy for a young boy to do such things. When Rob, at the age of 14, doesn't get in to the football-team, his father is very disappointed. But when he tells him that he did get in the boxing-team, his father is happy again. When the father brings this up to the mother, she's says she doesn't want Rob to fight because it's too dangerous: it could damage his brains. But finally they agree that Rob can go boxing, but he has to stop after the tournament. So they start to train together. But the day of the tournament, Rob gets ill: he has pain in his side and thinks he has appendicitis. Then the father calls Rob's coach: Mr. Granger, but he doesn't know of anything: Rob's school doesn't go in for boxing. Mr Willison learns that Rob has lied to him.
*The effect of low self-esteem
*Masculinity and society’s expectations of men
The main theme, as the title indicates, is masculinity. The story shows the length to which people can be driven to live up to what they think the standard of being a man should be. Mr. Willison is insensitive and this is conveyed by the image of Rob lying on the grass, “his legs thin and white among the rich grass”. This suggests that Rob could never be muscular and he is not happy about it. He calls his son a pet. Mr Willison has inferiority complex about his own physique that he manipulates his son to become what he never became. Mr Willison is obsessed...
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