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Gavin and Col both wish for something bad to happen, for example in ‘Killing Lizards’ you can see that Gavin dreams of his fantasy which is that his sister is killed in a plane crash from Africa, he also wishes that his father would die in a car crash and dreams of breaking news to his mother. These sentences; ‘he’s been a marvel’ and ‘they’re so close now’ shows Gavin thoughts, illustrating that he desperately want to seek his mother’s love and attention without any interference from his father or his sister.

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His jealousy can be seen when his mother and sister go shopping together and he senses that his mother spends more time with Amanda, then she does with Gavin. This shows that Gavin experiences unconscious conflict with his father and his sister over his love for his mother. The relationship between Gavin and his mother can be approached through the Freudian theory based on the Ancient Greek myth of Oedipus which explains how boys such as Gavin feel when they are growing up; a certain attachment is formed between the boy and the mother which is clearly seen in this part of the story. However, Col’s dream is slightly different to Gavin’s.

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Col wishes for a storm that would break the pattern of the long hot summer days. On page 10 he states ‘he does not want the past, he wants the future’, this illustrates to the reader that he wishes for a change, he wants to quarrel rather than seeing his family enjoying themselves by ‘building sandcastles’, ‘reading books’ and ‘wearing hats’. These sentences show clearly that Col’s thinking and attitude is very different to his family, which immediately presents him as an outsider because the feelings and attitudes that he has are different from everybody’s happy feelings, which makes him feel isolated from the rest of his family.

His isolation can also be seen when he sits by himself in his bedroom instead of playing on the beach and when he walks to the West Cliff sitting there by himself instead of swimming in the sea unlike his Father is. The writer uses long detailed and descriptive sentences such as ‘… he went for a walk on his own, over the track beside the gorse bushes… sheep field behind the West Cliff’, to show that the character is so isolated that he starts to notice and take in the views surrounding him in great detail.

The use of long descriptive sentences also helps to express the characters thoughts and emotions clearly as they give the reader detailed images of their inner thoughts and feelings of the characters, for example; ‘… the dust rose in the soft clouds… hedges were mottled and dark and the birds went quiet’, ‘Col felt his own anger tightening around his head. ‘ Gavin and Col both become lonely as their sisters grow into the adult world and separate from them.

Their parents also start to pay less attention towards them, which make these characters feel even more isolated from the rest. Col senses that he is no longer close to Jess due to a big age difference between them. He also realises that she wont play with him anymore; ‘she was almost fourteen moving away to join the adults. ‘ Col feels isolated; he has no one to build sandcastles with and to show his anger he kicks at the sandcastle, which Jess has built for the baby as he strongly feels that it should have been made for him.

This is how the writer shows Col confronting crises. The kicking of the sandcastle shows a sign of isolation and also illustrates that he is going through the first part of his frontier experience; childhood. Gavin and Col become two new different individuals after experiencing traumatic events. The traumatic event that Col experiences is when his Father starts to drown in the sea and no body is there save him, which leaves Col to think about how strong the badness is inside him and at the end he feels guilty and shocked as this was a bigger change that he could ever imagine.

He also feels guilty because he wished for this event to happen. Col realises his selfishness and the badness within him only after the event has occurred. He then matures quickly showing that he is going into adulthood, which the second part of his frontier experience. The traumatic event that Emily experiences is the death of her husband and her father, which leaves her feeling lonely and isolated. However, in this story she does not become a different individual like Col and Gavin do. She wants to cling onto the past and refuses to move on.

The scene of decay in Homer’s “tomb” is a symbol of the folly of Emily’s refusal to move on. The opening of the room reveals a stagnant world of deacy, which in many respects mirrors the decaying way of life at this time. This shows a sign of madness and explains that she is moving from sanity to insanity. Boyd uses long detailed descriptive sentences, which include similes and alliteration; ‘Gavin looked at her rich red hair … creamy back’, the writer does this to show how Gavin takes in the appearance of his mother in a very slow pace.

Here the writer has written a semi-erotic description illustrating the sexual feelings Gavin has for his mother, that is helped by using alliteration and colour, for example ‘rich red’. Using alliteration helps to emphasis the colour to the reader. The colour used is ‘red’, this is considered to be an erotic, sexual bold colour, which helps to describe his strong sexual feelings for his mother. The lexis used such as ‘red’, ‘bra’ and ‘pants’ create a strong semantic field of romance and obsession, which Gavin has for his mother.

This idea of sexual feelings that Gavin has, relate to the Oedipus theory of how boys develop sexual feelings and start to notice every detail about their mothers appearance and looks as they grow up. Writers have used quite a lot of similes such as ‘ badness was living and growing like a cancer’ to help describe the images better and making them clearer by comparing them to other living things or objects. Each simile is designed to create a specific effect, so for this example, the cancer represents a disease which cannot be controlled and is contagious.

Short sentences such as ‘the sea was still as glass’, ‘Col saw his father drowning’ are used to create shock and terror by the writer. Short sentences help to increase the pace and emphasis the moment of realisation and panic. Long sentences would not be able to create this effect, which is why writers use short sentences to present how the characters confront crises. I have found that in these short stories, writers have used language cleverly in different ways to present states of isolation and to show their characters confronting crises when they undergo a frontier experience.

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Kylie Garcia

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