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Transcript of Tyres
Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956, and grew up in India, Cameroon and England
Began his professional career as a mime artist
Author of ten novels, two collections of stories and six books of poetry, a stage play , and numerous radio plays and broadcasts
His first novel, Ulverton (1992), received the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize
The story is narrated by a young frenchman who works in his father's tyre shop.
It is the time of the german occupation of France and life is tough.
No one is to be trusted
'The resistance' was mentioned in the story several times and soon became an important aspect by the ending.
The narrator is a gawky young man.
He notices this young woman who cycles past his father’s tyre shop every day. It takes him quite a while to get talking to her.
It the time of the German occupation and life is unpredictable. The girl seems to be involved with the Resistance.
One day Cecile, surprisingly, accepts a lift from a German officer.
Though the protagonist sees that, he does not comprehend her motive
Soon there is a horrific accident which is most likely caused by the fact that the narrator tampered with the tyre and the occupants of the car perish.
The protagonist still ponders about what happened though more than twenty years have passed since then.
He remains faithful to her memory.
by Adam Thorpe
“…man who could not take risks. It was moulded into him, it was part of his job.”
Believed in superstitions (In hard frosts, he thought that heaping up old, dead tyres at the ends of the fields, the evil smoke would scare the frost away from the vine-buds.)
Believed in doing his absolute best (warned son against ‘cutting corners’, always triple checked everything)
Felt that the safety (on the road) of his customers was his responsibility (when Mme Renouvin died in a car accident, which was blamed on a ‘blow-out’, he did not eat for days, like a fast of repentance)
“He didn’t turn them away, when they came as clients”, “If he didn’t like what was happening under his very nose, then he never said so.”
“Pimply young lad”
Shy (took years to pluck up the courage to talk to Cécile)
faithful (even years after Cécile’s death, he never married again, still lays flowers at the place of her death)
Holds his father’s opinion in high regard
Did not think of himself as worthy of Cécile, didn’t think much of himself (“far too good for a dolt like me”)
Nervous/Anxious (when he was deliberately shaving the rubber of the inner tube of the tyre for the Gestapo, he could “scarcely keep my hands from trembling”)
Associated with the Resistance
Not afraid of death (or at least, valued helping in the war efforts more than her own life)
“There was something sinewy about her, though, that one could trust”
Trusted Raoul (Mentioned ‘Petit Ours’ to him, thus hinting that she was part of the resistance)
I feel that the story provides a good insight on the way life was for the French when their land was occupied by the Nazis. It shows how the war (and a girl’s patriotism to help win it) destroyed what would have otherwise been a fairytale romance. I found this all rather upsetting, and it made me highly sympathetic towards anyone who has to live through a war
I felt that the writer of this story has focused on something so simple such as the love story between the narrator and the character Cecile during a time like World war 1. This aspect is effortlessly bought out in such a bleak setting such as the war.
What struck me most about the story apart from the points already mentioned, is its relation with the one stories done this term (To Da Duh, Of White Hair and Cricket, The People Before). The fact that each of the stories explore relationships in various circumstances.
Significance of title
Tyres is a central idea to the story.
Not only is it the narrator's livelihood, he tends to compare his life and the essense of people's souls to tyres.
The narrator has dignity of labor and is even passionate about his work
"There was the inner tube, and the outer casing of hard rubber. I always saw these as the body and the soul"
"I learnt to see a tyre as sad, when its chin lay flat on the ground, melting away – and when it was fat and full it bounced, it was so happy"
Finally and most importantly, however, it is one of the most important things in his life- tyres that kill the other most important aspect of his life - Cecile.
Apart from the obvious theme of a budding romance, another implicit one is the life of ordinary people in the midst of extraodrinary circumstances.
The idea of changing tyres, developing a relationship are set in the backdrop of a brutal war.
A minor theme is the relationship between father and son
Another explorable angle is the conflict between the Resistance and the Germans and the role of Tyres there.
The story follows a stream of consiousness style where the point of view is first person
The reader is therefore allowed to see the story from the narrator's perspective
Thorpe uses visual imagery to describe the budding romance
Tone plays a key role in the work
The tone starts out with the narrator's mild irritation with a tedious customer and follows a very mundane account (aside from his first love)
However, Cecile's death marks a change of tone, where the narrator loses his will to live.
He exists but he doesn't live