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Spies by Michael Frayn. How does Frayn show Stephen's mental progression from childhood to adolescence? You should refer to language, form and structure in your answer.

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Introduction

How does Frayn show Stephen's mental progression from childhood to adolescence? You should refer to language, form and structure in your answer. Frayn uses language, structural change and symbolism throughout the events of the novel to exhibit Stephen's mental descent to adolescence. A theme that reveals itself in the first chapter is perception, and Stephen's perception of reality increases during the bildungsroman. The book begins with the elder Stephen, who is very open about his sensory stimulation in perceiving surroundings. For example: "sheltering the modest houses from the summer sun and making our famously good air fresh" exhibits Stephen being open and attentive of his surroundings, whereas younger Stephen is focused entirely on the notion that Mrs. Hayward is a spy. The extent is made clear by how Stephen links mathematical code into the mystery - "Excellent. So what is the value of x" ... "Into x, the unknown in the equation we have to solve." there is a clear distinction between the sensory states of the elder and younger forms of Stephen, with the former being more integrated to his surroundings, whereas the latter's perception twists simple mathematics into part of a greater puzzle. ...read more.

Middle

Hayward as he sexually awakens. Firstly, cracks in his friendship with Keith appear: "I'm sick of being bossed around all the time" this reflects the rebellious stage teenagers enter under the influence of adolescence, in which their entire view on the world changes. Furthermore, "bossed" implies that Keith is in command of Stephen, much like a parent's command over their children, and through adolescence Stephen is managing to break through his childish instantaneous obedience. In place of this relationship comes friendship with Barbara, and this change in form admits the extent of which adolescence is working on Stephen's mind, as he has become friends with a girl. Stephen says "'Squidgy' is a girl's word that I shouldn't condescend to respond to." Use of the verb "condescend" refers to Stephen's current mental stigma to view girls as underneath them, inferior, but adolescence kicking in changes this: "Now she's trying to supplant Keith as the one who makes the plans" exhibits that Stephen acknowledges the change, and yet later both smoke from the same cigarette, a sign of their bond, and thus how Stephen can bond with girls due to the sexual revolution occurring in his mind since disassociating with Keith. ...read more.

Conclusion

the effect is amplified by the exclamation mark expressing Stephen's passion, thus how Stephen has progressed from a simplistic, obedient child, to a man. Furthermore, in the final chapter, Stephen answers his own questions, something he was unable to do, due to mental immaturity, earlier in his journey: "Can I imagine him dead? Not really." ... "Did I really not know at the time that the broken man in the Barns was Uncle Peter? Of course I knew." The significance being that structurally, Stephen is quickly able to come to conclusions to his questions, whereas previously Keith's approval was required, and this prevents the structure from continuing the novel - tying up the loose ends. Ultimately, the extent of Stephen's progression from childhood is made evident by Chapter 11, due to sheer contrast, in both language and structure, especially contextually. In conclusion, Frayn uses language techniques such as lexical fields, different languages and symbolism to communicate the progression in Stephen's mental state from childhood to adulthood, and this is further emphasised by the clear change of how Stephen narrates the story, as he masters adolescence to become perceptive and mature, the product visible at the beginning and end of Spies. ...read more.

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