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The Thing in The Forest by A.S. Byatt

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Elizabeth Eckenrode

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of The Thing in The Forest by A.S. Byatt

The Thing in The Forest by A.S. Byatt About A.S. Byatt Antonia Susan was born August 24, 1936 in Yorkshire, England. She won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2009 for her collection of short stories titled: Possession: A Romance, Chatto & Windus. Her short stories are categorized as fairy tale lore but some have specific details and descriptions which have historical meaning. The Significance of the Title The title of the story, The Thing in the Forest, is significant in the sense that it foreshadows the main idea of the story. The audience expects more than just a "thing", as listed in the title. Plot Organization The story is mostly chronological, with the exception of flashbacks that occur once Penny and Primrose meet once again. Setting The setting of the story is vital in terms of context. The story begins in the early 1940s during the blitz of World War II. The story first starts in urban Great Britain where Penny and Primrose board a train and later moves to the countryside where the girls take refuge in a mansion next to a forest. Characters Penny: "Was thin and dark and taller, possibly older." She later became a child psychologist.
Primrose: "Who was plump and blonde and curly." She later became a story teller, and took care of children.
Both Primrose and Penny lost their fathers at a young age during the Blitz, later lost their mothers within a week of each other, and neither were ever married. Both were affected by the "thing" they saw in the forest in different ways throughout their lives. Flat or Rounded? Both Penny and Primrose are rounded characters. This is especially evident once both girls witness the horror of "the thing" in the forest. Point of View The story took place from a third person point of view. Style, Diction, and Metaphors A.S. Byatt emphasizes a folkloric style with historical background. The story is written with great detail and has an emphasis on diction. This is evident when describing "the thing", the characters, and the general imagery throughout the story. A.S. Byatt executes with great diction as she describes the setting surrounding the girls throughout their journey and especially when describing the "thing". Symbols Alys: She was the image of innocence as a young child. For Penny and Primrose, she was a symbol of guilt for the rest of their lives.
The "thing": It symbolized the terror and lasting effects of war. Because of its supposedly grotesque nature and appearance, Penny and Primrose are scarred by it just as adults were scarred by World War II. They are not able to progress as adults with the image of the "thing" burned in to their minds. Significant Details The first and last sentence of the story are very similar, "There were once two little girls who saw, or believed they saw, a thing in the forest..." This could possibly help the audience assume that the narrator was Primrose for the entirety of the story.
A.S. Byatt emphasizes the similar characteristics between Penny and Primrose to prove a connection between the "thing" and World War II. Despite different social backgrounds growing up, both girls were scarred by the "thing" in the same manner, just as the entirety of Europe was scarred by World War II. Theme "Loss of Innocence"
The impact of seeing the "thing" at a young age seems to scar Penny and Primrose just as the war impacted the entirety of Europe. The horror forces them to grow up and have a negative outlook on life. Both women never married and never seem to overcome the experience they faced as children. During which war does the story take place? Who are the two main characters? What is the name of the little girl that followed Penny and Primrose in to the forest? Name one symbol that appeared in the story. True or false: The "thing" was based off of an Irish legend Where did the legend of the "thing" truly originate? What occupations did Penny and Primrose end up with as adults? Discussion Questions: From your perspective...

What is the theme of the story?

Are there other symbols in the story?

What do you think the "thing" was?
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