• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the Implicit Suggestion of a Class Hierarchy as Revealed in Pages 1 to 25 of Spies.

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the Implicit Suggestion of a Class Hierarchy as Revealed in Pages 1 to 25 of "Spies". The opening chapter of "Spies" by Michael Frayn is host to an implicit suggestion of the wartime class hierarchy. The second chapter of the book opens with the description of the place that the main character, Stephen used to live and with the simple quote "the same old quite, sweet, dull ordinariness" and the reference to the "close" conjures images of the still thriving middle class, British snobbery. Frayn portrays an ordered world as he runs through descriptions of the houses creating a sense of uniformity for example he refers to "the endless clacking of Mr Sheldon's shears". This tells the reader that people in his area are house-proud which, incidentally, makes Stephen's family's differences stand out starkly. Stephen introduces his house as part of "the only semi-detached pair in the close" and the affect of this is that an instant stigma is placed onto Stephen; he is socially below the others in his area. ...read more.


Stephen here has cheap, grubby shoes and in contrast, Keith has expensive, neat shoes giving off an unmissable air of middle class precision of image that sets Keith above Stephen in the close hierarchy. The difference even continues to the uniformity of the plain socks that boys of the period wore; Frayn writes, "One of his long grey socks has slipped down his leg" in reference to Stephen, on the other hand Keith's are "neatly pulled up to half an inch below his knees". This image, and the use of the precise measurements, shows that Keith is a "proper" ordered little boy, suitable for the middle class society. Even Stephen's attempts cannot seem to save him from his lowered status, whilst he visits the Hayward's house he "pulls up his sagging socks". The use of the alliteration of the "s" sound is silly and comedic giving the reader the impression that of course Stephen can't escape his social standing. Inevitably we are shown that "the sock with the failed garter slipped down", a sad image that reinforces Stephen's inferiority when put in the perfect haven of the Hayward's house. ...read more.


Keith holds the authority in his and Stephen's relationship, much like one of an army regiment. Keith's superiority is governed by "intellectual and imaginative superiority" something that also seems to imply a hierarchy in the close. Even Keith's possessions seem to be more "right" compared to Stephen. For example Stephen's narrative informs the reader that " he has a special sports model" and that "Green's the right colour for a bicycle, just as it's the wrong one for a belt", this tells us Keith clearly knows his place in the preset hierarchy, he is the observer. In conclusion I can clearly see that Frayn has highlighted the class hierarchy in the beginning of the book. It sets the scene for the book with its' connotations of suburban snobbery yet it also brings an air of mystery to the book when the strangeness of Stephen's and Keith's relationship is brought to light. After all, Frayn has written, "The Haywards were impeccable. And yet they tolerated Stephen!" summing up the odd feel of the combination. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Authors essays

  1. Examine the presentation of the relationship between Keith and Stephen in Spies

    The bullied has transformed into the bully. Stephen relishes the chance to assert authority upon what he perceives to be a lesser being. We can trace the origins of this conduct back up the chain of authority to Keith's father.

  2. Analyse the ways in which Frayn presents the relationship between Stephen and Keith in ...

    Keith probably felt betrayed, perhaps even jealous. In his jealousy, he threatens Stephen with the "bayonet". Stephen says he can "feel the point of the bayonet" against his "throat" whilst Keith "smiles". This seems to suggest that Keith enjoys the power he has to frighten his friend.

  1. How does Frayn present young Stephen in the first three chapters of "Spies"? How ...

    I believe Frayn used this technique to make the reader perhaps pity Stephen, as it seems as if he never really had a chance of being Keith's equal just because of his nature. It also makes Stephen seem much more like a typical little boy, which means the reader is

  2. How Effectively Does Frayn Use Barbara Berrill in 'Spies'?

    I think that another way in which Frayn effectively uses Barbara is through his use of humour in her presence. A lot of what happens between Stephen and Keith, or at home, can be quite heavy going and perhaps a little less light hearted, whereas the little interludes with Stephen

  1. Discuss the importance and presentation of Mr Hayward in Michael Frayn's Spies

    And so each character has their own piece of victory in this battle, with Mr Hayward bringing out 'the bravest and most shocking thing' Stephen has done in his entire life, promptly juxtaposed with the 'weakest' and 'most cowardly'. Handing over the basket to Mr Hayward marks an extremely important turning point in the relationship between Ted and his wife.

  2. Discuss the relationship between Keith and Stephen that is presented in the first Six ...

    and space, it wasn't as interesting as Keith's who's family seemed a lot wealthier and seemed to have a perfect life, a life which Stephen wishes he probably had. Keith discovered 'Trenwick' and the 'rail embankment' and this shows that he used to go on adventures and missions by himself without the help of Stephen.

  1. What do you find noteworthy about the narrative voice in Spies?

    all and it is in fact Stephen's parents who are the 'parents of interest'. It is Stephen's dad who was the German spy, Stephen's dad who is in the Secret Service working for the British intelligence. This use of irony again is constantly determining the structure of the novel and how the reader sees the Haywards.

  2. Analyse how Frayn presents relationships between adults and children in Spies

    In a counterpoint to Keith's father, Mr. Wheatley is kind and mild-mannered. While Mr. Hayward is 'like an ogre in his cave' (pg.26).He is quietly affectionate, worrying about the bullying that Stephen is subjected to, and putting his arms around Stephen after Keith has injured his throat.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work