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Analyse the ways in which Frayn presents the relationship between Stephen and Keith in "Spies"

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Analyse the ways in which Frayn presents the relationship between Stephen and Keith in "Spies" Stephen and Keith in the novel "Spies" share a very unique relationship. It is complex and multi-layered, the characteristics of which are unravelled with the aid of time, status and perception. We are able to gather from the onset of chapter two, (from the details about Stephen and Keith), that they share an unusual relationship and friendship, given the differences in their background and character. Stephen and Keith are two very different boys, both from different social classes. Keith is seen to be further up the social ladder than his friend and peer, Stephen. Frayn uses a variety of methods to suggest this. He uses a series of contrasts in their houses, clothes, and even parents. We are told Stephen's gate has "rotted drunkenly away from the top hinge", whereas Keith's has "well-oiled hinges". Stephen's clothes are "too short" or "too long", whereas Keith's are "not too short" and "not too long" making a direct contrast. These clusters of contrasts clearly suggest Stephen's inferiority, compared to Keith. A commonly used adjective to describe Keith is "right", whereas to the same end, Stephen is frequently referred to being "wrong", again, showing this clear social divide between the two. ...read more.


The recreation of the experience of spying is particular proof of this. The present tense is used and the young Stephen is presented in the first person, so as to create an immediacy and sense of excitement to their activities, such as "creeping" into Keith's house to investigate Mrs. Hayward's desk, or when imagining Mr. Gort to be a "murderer". Childish details such as the excitement of using a disguise kit, gliding "across to the desk as silently as Sioux", conveying the children's interest in cowboys all adds to the effect of creating a less than mature, childlike attitude. The soft alliteration in "silently as Sioux" further reinforces the weak, imaginary effect of childhood. Later in the book where the boys follow Mrs. Hayward through the tunnel for the first time, it is Stephen's idea. Stephen is appropriately pleased that he has taken some initiative. However, Keith is said to maintain "an attitude of judicious caution about [the] proposals, to remind [Stephen] that [Keith is] still leader of this expedition". This is further to the point that Stephen is subservient to Keith, who exploits it. It is, naturally, possible to see who the dominant person in the friendship is. During chapter five, Stephen goes through the tunnel on his own, at night. ...read more.


The two short sentences "You swore. You double swore" shows that Keith is extremely angry with Stephen. He "whispers" these words, and that goes as further evidence of his admiration with power. He seems to enjoy threatening Stephen. He seems to have no sense of remorse as on two separate occasions "the pressure on [Stephen's] throat increases". Keith clearly, even beyond their friendship, is in control. We are told that after this moment, Stephen "never went to Keith's house again". Their relationship had an abrupt ending as a result of the force and violence which Keith used on countless occasions. Therefore, and interesting and complicating relationship between Keith and Stephen is presented. We can clearly see that Stephen both admires Keith, and is frightened of him. They both enjoy childish games, but violence and threat exists. We see the relationship solely from Stephen's perspective, and as a consequence, only gain an insight into Keith through Stephen. The shifting between the past and present tense, and first and third person adds to the sense of complexity. It is further proof that the relationship can be viewed in many different ways. There obviously existed an uneven power balance in their relationship, as well as fear, happiness and comedy, which all effectively added to the intricacy of the boys' relationship. ?? ?? ?? ?? Simon Johnson - 12B Page 1 of 5 ...read more.

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