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Woman at The Store

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Sarah Richardson

on 25 October 2010

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Transcript of Woman at The Store

THE WOMAN AT THE STORE THE WOMAN THE "KID" [The “kid” gave us the benefit of one eye from behind the woman's pinafore—then retired again.] The Woman's child is never given a name. Constantly referred to as the 'kid'. This gives anamalistic characterisation in name and in physical appearance describes by the narrator. Katherine Mansfield furthermore utilises adjectives such as 'bleated' to enhance this anamlistic trait of that of a goat. [“Mumma,” bleated the kid, “I made a picture of them on the 'ill, an' you an' me, an' the dog down below.”“Shut your mouth!” said the woman.] The goat symboises intelligence and nature. Katherine Mansfield has used this Imagery specific to the 'kid' to comment on the roles in society. The 'kid' being subject to the intrusion of adults in her life leaves her to be stripped of her innocence. Yet, her 'drawings' or 'creations' are commented on by the narrator to hold a 'lunatic's cleverness'. This heightens the nature of life and the intelligence presented by the imagery of the goat. By Katherine Mansfield ROLES Katherine Mansfield through her use of roles in the "Woman at the Store" comments on the invasion in which the adults who have become subject to these roles have on children, striping their innocence from them with their invasion. THE GOAT- IMAGERY Mansfield with her use of imagery could be possibly linking the 'one eye' metaphor to that of the 'all seeing eye' or 'eye of providence'. This symbol represents the eye of God watching over humankind to ensure nature is kept. The eye sees all. This would represent in "The Woman at the Store" the kid's intrusion of adults. Her access to the troubled world of adults strips her of her childish innocene leaving her to wellow in what she has seen. 'THE ALL SEEING EYE' ['away sheerin'] [Her (Katherine Mansfield) way of remedying the evils of the world, her 'cry against corruption', was of course, her fiction.] Gillian Boddy THE SKY THE SHELLS AND THE FLOWERS Orchids are generally regarded as symbols of rare and delicate beauty. They are also considered to be symbols of refinement and innocence. [ALL that day the heat was terrible. The wind blew close to the ground; it rooted among the tussock grass, slithered along the road, so that the white pumice dust swirled in our faces, settled and sifted over us and was like a dry-skin itching for growth on our bodies. The horses stumbled along, coughing and chuffing. The pack horse was sickwith a big, open sore rubbed under the belly. Now and again she stopped short, threw back her head, looked at us as though she were going to cry, and whinnied. Hundreds of larks shrilled; the sky was slate colour, and the sound of the larks reminded me of slate pencils scraping over its surface. There was nothing to be seen but wave after wave of tussock grass, patched with purple orchids and manuka bushes covered with thick spider webs.] Manuka bushes can be used a a natural medicine. From this extract taken from the very beginning of "The Woman at the Store' we are able to see Katherine Mansfield use of Imagery to present a forthcoming scene. She sets up the lead up to the event where the travelers meet 'The Woman at the Store' by using imagery such as the 'slate' coloured sky and the 'covered' 'purple orchids' and 'manuka bush' with the 'thick spider webs.' Mansfield is possibly suggesting that the woman has decayded over time and is covered by 'thick spider webs'. Another metaphor for the on the woman's homicidical actions which have been taken against her husband. The male figure which has taken away her good looks as well as her 'kid'. And 'wot for?' Mansfield further comments on these roles which women decay from.
Another possible meaning which could be taken from these flowers is that Mansfield is commenting on the stripage of inncocence from the 'kid'.Mansfield is possibly commenting on the destruction of the child's innocence by being introduced to the horrors of adults actions. [“Right-o, I'll take it down to them.” We walked together up the garden path. It was planted on both sides with cabbages. They smelled like stale dish-water. Of flowers there were double poppies and sweet-williams. One little patch was divided off by pawa shells presumably it belonged to the child for she ran from her mother and began to grub in it with a broken clothes-peg. The yellow dog lay across the doorstep, biting fleas; the woman kicked him away.] Poppies have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of their (commonly) blood-red color. In Greco-Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.[1] Poppies are used as emblems on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep. This aspect was used, fictionally, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to create magical poppy fields, dangerous because they caused those who passed through them to sleep forever. Sweet Williams flowers are one of the few blossoms that have symbols that most people associate with masculinity their predominant symbol being that of gallantry. However, they also represent finesse and perfection, and are frequently presented to the recipient as a way to tell him or her that the giver feels they are either quite smooth, or simply as good as it gets Feng Shui: Some people said this sea treasure can balance your inner energy, bring peace to your soul and spirit. Mansfield utilises the imagery of poppies in conjuntion with Sweet-Williams to present a joint imagery of death and a masculine figure. This really is a big indication of past events. However, we, the readers do not truly understand this meaning until it is expressed by the 'drawing' of the'kid'. Purple Orchids Poppies
Slate coloured clouds
Paua Shell
Spider Web
Manuka Bush [rat of a child]
[mangy child]
It was a large room, the walls plastered with old pages of English periodicals. Queen Victoria's Jubilee appeared to be the most recent number. A table with an ironing board and wash tub on it, some wooden forms, a black horsehair sofa, and some broken cane chairs pushed against the walls. The mantelpiece above the stove was draped in pink paper, further ornamented with dried grasses and ferns and a coloured print of Richard Seddon. There were four doorsone, judging from the smell, let into the “Store,” one on to the “backyard,” through a third I saw the bedroom. Flies buzzed in circles round the ceiling, and treacle papers and bundles of dried clover were pinned to the window curtains. SOCIAL STATUS [three brown things comin’’ over the ‘hill’…They’ll be ‘awks’’] In representation to humanity, the hawk is called messenger, protector and visionary. Keen vision is one of its greatest gifts. Hawks see things others miss.
THE HAWK SYMBOL Mansfield utilises the perspective of the 'kid' and 'The Woman at the Store' to portray this imagery. This quote is from the beginning of the story, once again utilised as a suggestion from Mansfield about forecoming events. The 3 travellers are compared to hawks. Animals which can see things clearly. In other words the travellers are able to see the woman clearly and find out about what she has done. JIM, JO AND THE NARRATOR [“Now listen to me,” shouted the woman, banging her fist on the table. “It's six years since I was married, and four miscarriages. I says to 'im, I says, what do you think I'm doin' up 'ere? If you was back at the coast, I'd 'ave you lynched for child murder. Over and over I tells 'im—you've broken my spirit and spoiled my looks, and wot for— that's wot I'm driving at.” She clutched her head with her hands and stared round at us. Speaking rapidly, “Oh, some days— an' months of them— I 'ear them two words knockin' inside me all the time— ‘Wot for!’ but sometimes I'll be cooking the spuds an' I lifts the lid off to give 'em a prong and I 'ears, quite suddin again, ‘Wot for!’ Oh! I don't mean only the spuds and the kid— I mean —I mean,” she hiccoughed —“you know what I mean, Mr. Jo.”] Straight outward Mansfield is commenting on the roles of women compared to men in society. Similiarly in "At the Bay", Mansfield has posed the question of life, if one happens to be born a woman through Linda Burnell's question 'why flower at all?', backing it up with 'would this always be so'. Mansfield in this instance is directly commenting on the flowering of women. They flower into beautiful createures but are wasted by the roles in which they are subject to by men and society. In " The Woman at the Store', the question is similar. Mansfield, through the viewpoint of the woman, is asking what the point was conforming to society;s roles. All she is got from her role by her husband is a 'broken spirit' and 'spoiled...looks'.
I think what Mansfield us trying to portray through the groupuig of these seperate images is the social status which people uphold to in society. We are constantly bombarded with various influences telling us how we should live our lives in order to fit into the roles which are presented by socirty. 'Suitable Appropriate Existence as commented on by Gillian Boddy. She further includes some of Mansfield's own words which support her view towards the roles in socirty- 'the days full of perpeptual Society functions, the hours full of clothes discussions, the waste of life...'
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