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Discuss the relationship between Keith and Stephen that is presented in the first Six chapters of the novel 'Spies' the riveting novel written by Michael Frayn is narrated

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Essay: Discuss the relationship between Keith and Stephen that is presented in the first Six chapters of the novel 'Spies' the riveting novel written by Michael Frayn is narrated by Stephen Wheatley himself as he realises that he must take a trip to the destination: Memory Lane. He's looking for "the last house before you go round the bend and it turns into Amnesia Avenue," because of something sensual that triggered a remembrance, in this case the "vulgar" smell of privet hedge. The odour takes him back to a terrible summer during World War II when he and his friend Keith were caught up in the adolescent fantasies of wartime. They lived in a nameless suburb of London on a claustrophobic cul-de-sac or "close" of ordinary houses where privet hedges were great hiding places. Stephen Wheatley can be described as a 'dopey, dreamy lad' and he forms an unlikely friendship with Keith Hayward who is the opposite to him. keith is a polite, fiercely disciplined, quite sinister boy with a vicious and sinister father and a nice charming mother. Stephen and his best friend, Keith Hayward, contribute to the war effort by proposing terrible goings-on in their neighbourhood that need investigating: murderers, smugglers, and secret societies. One day, Keith announces that his mother is a German spy, and a new game begins. In the first chapter Stephen refers to himself as 'the awkward boy who lives in that unkempt house between the Hardiments and the Pinchers' he is ashamed of his dilapidated home with the neglected lawn that his father never tended and of the boy he once was and used to look like. He was known as 'the one with the stick-out ears' and wore clothes that were too short or too long, this reflected his humble background. Everything about him was grey, not just his mood but what he wore such as the 'stripes on the belt,' he was entirely monochrome and that's how the old Stephen could recognise himself from the old 'black-and-white snaps.' ...read more.


Keith liked to feel in power and to be in charge, he knew that he was better off and wanted to impress Stephen by giving him a taste of his life as he is of a higher social class. Looking back at the young Stephen he realised that Keith made stories up and that he was very gullible quoted 'Keith's words came out of nowhere, that they were spontaneously created in the moment they were uttered' Stephen makes out that Keith just imagined things ' a blind leap of pure fantasy. Or of pure intuition,' and he did it more than once. He visits Keith all the time because of all of the investigation and his mother gets suspicious but doesn't have any control over him 'where are you off to?..'Not to Keith's house?' he is quite nasty about his mother when he says 'there's something so hopelessly ordinary about her that it's difficult to take account of her existence' he shows no interest or time for her. They are quite devious about the investigation and Keith is always the leader and is the expert, as he knows what to do, Stephen just observes and follows. This is shown in quotes such as 'very softly Keith takes down the looking glass from its hook, and picks up the torch from the hall table.'Stephen tried to imitate Keith in the operation 'I bend over and imitate his methodical slowness' this is because he is so fond of him and thinks that everything he does is correct. Keith was very precise and did everything properly especially when he records various letters and digits in the logbook, which he claims, are 'codes'. He was very organised and examined every little clue, which contributed to the investigation. Keith feels extremely superior and deliberately tries to scare Stephen to make out that he is more courageous and mature. Stephen has felt humiliated by him in the past as he says 'things start as a game, and then they turn into a test, which I fail,' this shows how spiteful Keith can be. ...read more.


Stephen felt disappointed with himself when he only managed to get a sock and thinks 'if it had been Keith who had done the deed it would be. It would be a map or a plan of something perhaps.' And Keith was not at all impressed. Stephen spoke harshly about himself ' My great exploit hasn't pleased or impressed him....He's the one who's the hero of our projects, not me' he was filled with self-pity. Keith had his fathers tone and his phrases, at the 'accusing absence in the undergrowth' at his own hopelessness. He felt ashamed and humble. Stephen thought it was unfair how Keith kept humiliating him because he didn't hide his body just his face 'like a little baby.' He was accusing him and Stephen was distraught and thought that he had lost interest in him. When they followed her Stephen didn't want to go and Keith teased him about being frightened of dogs, but Stephen realised that Keith was just as frightened as him. He realised that Keith needed his company as without him there is game or there is no one to be braver than him, even after these revelations he still joins him. They both thought alike and were both reluctant as they both weren't brave enough to go to the cottages. When they got there Stephen stopped being a cowardice and thought it was funny terrifying the tramp with a metal bar and wood. They were laughing and panting until the same sensation afflicted both of them that they had killed him. They both ran neither of them leading for once as they were both in the same situation and both frightened. Overall we learn that at the beginning Stephen is slovenly, a poor student and pathetically insecure and Keith is neat, excels at school and confidently plans their games of childish adventure, two very opposites. We learn that in the end they are both very similar and are in the same situation as a result of a very dangerous game and both have to face the consequences. . ...read more.

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