Shift From Childhood To Adulthood In Michael Frrayn's 'Spies'

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Spies CourseWork: (1000 words)

Q) It has been suggested that Frayn was interested in exploring the ‘shift’ from childhood to adulthood in Spies. Explore this view with close reference too the language of the text.

Michael Frayn (the author of ‘Spies’) explores the ‘shift’ from childhood to adulthood, in the novel ‘Spies’ through understanding, maturity and love. We see the protagonist, Stephen, remembering his childhood through his adult eyes, looking back on his actions, as well as his understanding and the perspective of the world. ‘Spies’ is a bildungsroman, and so the story is orientated around the concept of Stephen’s progress in maturity and the change in his perspective of the events that happen within the novel. ‘Spies’ main idea
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One example is through Stephen’s perspective of love; ‘There’s nowhere left except the bit in between, ands that part of a lady, as I’ve known for atlas a year now, is her bosom, and as unthinkable-about as a privet.’. The repeated use of commas, as well as a long fractured sentence suggests Stephen is uncomfortable with saying/thinking about Mrs Haywards bosom, and conveys a sense of distress and awkwardness from Stephen. It also shows his advancement in becoming a man, as the reader can see an increase in his sexuality. The long sentence also shows that Stephen doesn’t want to address the memory and drags out the moment, making it more uncomfortable and awkward for the reader. Stephen compares Mrs Haywards bosom to a privet, showing that he finds his thoughts to be gross and disgusting, like a privet. A second example from Frayn, where he uses love to explore the ‘shift’ from childhood to adulthood, is when Barbra Berrill and Stephen kiss; ‘She leans in closer still, and rests her lips against mine. Some moments go by. She takes her lips away.’ Frayn begins with a long sentence, which drags out the moment, and shows that it happened slowly for Stephen. The placement of the comma means that the moment before it is slowed and stays in the readers mind, before moving on to the kiss. Lastly, we see the everlasting obsession and love that Stephen has, even …show more content…
On example is through Stephens change in maturity as the novel progresses. Stephen becomes increasingly mature, and we see this through the way his perspective on the world changes, and the way he faces situations and problems; real-life or imaginary. ’So, she’s a German spy’. This shows Stephen accepting Keith’s game that Mrs Hayward is a spy, without question. Here in the novel Stephen is at his least mature, and is naïve about what is truly happening in the novel. The comma before ‘she’s a German spy’ places emphasis on the phrase, and shows that Stephen is considering how to act in this situation. As the present Stephen looks back on child him, he occasionally uses the 3rd person narrative, especially when he can’t quite remember what happened; ‘Did Stephen understand at last who it was down there in the darkness, when he heard his own name spoken?’ The intrusive narration shows that present Stephen isn’t quite sure what happened, and that even now he is unsure of what truly happened. The rhetorical question shows confusion, as Stephen is not sure what order certain small details happened. ’The game’s finally over’ This shows Stephen has finally let go of the games of his childhood. The word ‘finally’ shows that this has been waiting to happen for a while, but Stephen hasn’t been ready to let go of the games

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