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How does R. Gerallt Jones make us feel sorry for Johnny in 'The Letter'?

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Sean Wozencroft 10J Anglo/Welsh Prose: The Letter How does R.Gerallt Jones make us feel sorry for Johnny in 'The Letter'? 'The Letter', by R. Gerallt Jones, is a story about a young Welsh boy who leaves his home in Pwllheli to go to a boarding school in England. As we follow Johnny's footsteps to Shrewsbury, we are witnesses of the bullying that he is subject to and the change in lifestyle for the homesick child. Johnny is the main character of the story and he infact is the narrator, guiding us through all the goings-on. From the very beginning of the short story we are aware that Johnny is a youngster who has not had much experience of being away from home. His age is not preciously stated at any time, but we get an impression of immaturity by studying his habits, likes, dislikes, attitudes and relationships. Firstly, Johnny constantly repeats the last words that his mother said to him before he departed for the train station, "Remember to write," Jones writes. This shows that Johnny is nervous about the change in his life and so he is thinking of his mum as a comfort. As he is yet to taste life outside of his mother's safe grasp, he wants to remember her as if she were still with him. ...read more.


As he gets on his train, he notices a young boy with the same colour cap as his. Curious, Johnny takes a closer look and realises that he is keenly reading a newspaper. Johnny is amazed; the only person that he has ever seen reading a newspaper is his dad. Johnny does not yet have the intellectuality to realise the informative benefit of reading a broadsheet paper. The only thing that he has ever taken an interest in is comics. The writer establishes that the change in Johnny's life is extraordinary and will affect him greatly by listing all the changes that will happen in a matter of days. Seemingly, nothing will be the same again - he must change from child to man once he has entered the mature surroundings of his new school. Johnny then gets on his train as the journey to Shrewsbury begins. This section of the story is absolutely crucial, as the writer makes clear. R.Gerallt Jones stresses the importance of the journey by thoroughly explaining every event that happens to Johnny and all the people that he sees and meets along the way. Not a detail is left out. One of the writer's methods to emphasise that he is on a train is the frequent use of the words 'Clic-di-clac.' ...read more.


In the end, Johnny does not tell the truth in his letter to his mum. He describes the school as 'quite nice', even though the boys around him are bullying him. This real letter is very different from the letters that he was thinking about sending while on the train, as he does not want his mother worrying about him. The tone of this letter is very different from the others also, despite its briefness. In conclusion, the writer successfully makes us feel sorry for Johnny throughout the story. He does this by firstly making him sound young, sweet and innocent, and then putting the character into the situation where he is forced to move away from home. It is clear that he does not have any previous experience of living away and he is very, very worried about the whole thing. Then, as he arrives at his destination, he is mentally abused by the other students. As he is weak and defenceless, the reader is bound to feel sympathy for Johnny as he weeps in the toilet night after night. On a personal note, 'The Letter' is a good short story that I enjoyed reading. It was particularly interesting the way we saw the story from Johnny's perspective, with him as the narrator. R.Gerallt Jones used some strong issues (such as bullying) to make us feel sorry for Johnny, and they were very effective indeed. ...read more.

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