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Barbara Berrill

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How effectively does Frayn use Barbara Berrill in "Spies"? In "Spies", Barbara Berrill is a character who contributes to the book throughout in many different ways, including her interactions with Stephen and overall presence in the book. Frayn achieves various different effects through her character, both affecting our view of Stephen, our view of other characters, the book as a whole and the atmosphere of the book. I believe that the criteria of effectiveness is judged on how well something affects or moves the reader, and how well something contributes to the aim of a text. As soon as Barbara is introduced into the book on page 96, we can see this occurring, as the reader is immediately able to sense one of Barbara's main effects and purposes in the book; the creation of humour when she is with Stephen. The reader finds their relationship comic at first due to the way that Stephen reacts when Barbara enters the lookout. Stephen describes his sense of "outrage" that Barbara should be in the lookout, and he also says that he is "offended" by her intrusion. These phrases create humour in the book because they are so exaggerated and also are strong words to use, especially for a child. As a result, the reader feels somewhat superior to Stephen because we find it amusing that he could be so offended that someone has entered his secret place - in spite of the mature words he uses, it feels like a childish reaction to be so infuriated by this. ...read more.


Frayn effectively uses the character of Barbara as a method of making Stephen a more three dimensional character which will be vital to the success of the book. The direct contrast between Keith and Barbara is important to ensure that we do see the different side to Stephen - it is important that this contrast is shown effectively. I think Frayn made sure that he would achieve this when he created the character of Barbara. There are numerous obvious differences between the two, such as Keith wanting to be superior constantly, whereas Barbara simply wishes to be friends with Stephen (after the initial conversation where she tries to get Stephen to admit he doesn't know what "privet" is). As well as these, there are also more subtle contrasts, such as the differences in their smiles. Barbara's smile is described as "big" and "mocking", whereas Keith's smile is described as "dangerous" and "little". Even this tiny contrast is effective in showing how different these characters are, and ensure that the different sides both of them bring out in Stephen are emphasises as far as possible. If Frayn had made Barbara too similar to Keith, I believe that would have made many parts of the book much less effective as we would not have seen as many different sides to Stephen. In addition to this, I believe the book would not have been as interesting without this direct contrast - I believe that have diverse characters are important to the success of the book and Barbara certainly brings a different personality into the frame. ...read more.


This shows that these feelings and emotions are a lot closer to him and that they are more accessible to him as he matures. Due to this specific representation, Barbara is very important in communicating how Stephen matures as she carries the motif and is the subject of the feelings. Also, because the method is fairly subtle I believe it is also a very effective method used by Frayn in showing this change to the reader. Overall, I believe that Barbara Berrill is a very important character in "Spies", as she contributes largely to the main theme of the book, that of growing up and also plays a part in helping to tell the plot. I would also say that she is used to great effect by Frayn in these ways, as the portrayal of Stephen maturing is achieved very realistically and is made very believable. This is largely due to the character of Barbara and how the relationship between her and Stephen is created by Frayn, of which Barbara is obviously a vital point. I believe that this relationship is a key aspect of the book, and ensuring it was believable and humorous is probably a large factor in the success of the book as a whole. Barbara is also used by Frayn to help develop the character of Stephen overall, another important factor of success. The successful use of her here is shown by the obvious change in Stephen, which is something that makes the book seem realistic and therefore more endearing. Therefore, I would say that Frayn uses Barbara Berrill to great effect in "Spies" in many different ways. ?? ?? ?? ?? Laura Clark 12EM November 2008 ...read more.

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