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Compass &Torch

English evaluation of the short story in anthology
by

Vendryes Johnson

on 25 April 2013

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Transcript of Compass &Torch

Compass & Torch Themes Relationships (between father & son) Growing up/ Childhood Hopes/Dreams
Communication Compass: They’ve both forgotten it, therefore they are both lost
Torch: They both remember them. This uses symbolism of light to show they both hope to find their relationship. Symbols “Two torches are for lighting a bigger space in the wilderness, for lighting it together. Two torches are for father and son to back each other up.” Line 72
But then... in the epiphany “The man gently takes away the torch,” 171 suggests he’s lost hope? Horses: Symbolic of the pair’s inability to communicate – animals can’t communicate? Animals want food to begin with, can’t communicate. Horses at end, “in his dreams the boy will see their wild fringed eyes and feel the deep thudding of their hooves,” sounds nightmarish, analyse language. This symbolises the fact that their inability to communicate haunts him for the rest of his life.
All the themes reflect the ‘lost’ nature of their relationship Form Lines 1-9- present tense: reflects timeless nature of this event, it will affect boy for years in the future. Reflects importance of father-son relationship & its enduring influence on a child’s life third person omniscient narrator: Know both father & son’s perspective: stresses their inability to communicate – detaches them. Structure Lines 10-14- anxiety developed- narrator pulls us into the tension by describing precisely, with specific punctuation to make this acutely (painfully) cinematic, ‘abruptly, too hard-‘ the ‘and sure enough’ emphasises how the dread is compounded by the reality. Lines 19-26- new section- flashback for exposition. Dramatic use of overheard dialogue- so poignant as it is a child- is this suggesting his fear and tension stems from the contrast between step-father and father- he doesn’t want to admit it to himself?; omniscient narrator allows us to know the boy sees so much (only 8, very sad) his mother ‘starts’ and ‘wrenching a look’; visual image of her ‘the light seeping...shoulders ache’- he is carrying a huge burden- impact on how we sympathise/relate to this? Lines 166-172: the father’s epiphany (the boy is too young to reach a moment of clear understanding) He realises the distance between himself & his son but doesn’t do anything or communicate Language first line, the gate- key to the whole story; - connotations of barriers, closed doors setting ‘pale...bleached...bruised...age-old’; reflective of relationship Lines 91-93- the symbol of the forgotten compasses- losing each other- can’t find
their way back to each other- or do we glimpse the hope that the boy gives Lines 171-172- the father taking the torch- does this mean he takes their hope away because he dreads the pain too much? How do we respond when the story ends with the boy’s future dreams of the ponies- he will be haunted by his lost/out-of- reach feelings and connection with his father for ever? Or will the horses always be with them, always waiting to connect them again? Vendryes Johnson
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