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"THE TENSION CREATED IN SPIES"

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Introduction

"THE TENSION CREATED IN SPIES" Putting a child into a fight or flight scenario is going to unnerve the reader from the start and create tension. Michael Frayn introduces the darker side of Steven and Keith's spying in chapter 6, whereby Steven has to take up the task of obtaining evidence to support their suspicions. It is Steven who is assigned to the after dark duty. It's his eyes and ears that Frayn uses to transpose tension to us the reluctant voyeurs. We the audience are first introduced to Steven's visions of the "darkness", defined by its "blackness" and "sound". We see nothing and feel our way along with Steven through his task reluctantly. Steven's senses are heightened and are more apparent because he is a child and vulnerable, as he mentioned before he commenced his journey, "I shall die of fear". We along with Steven want the "moon to lighten the world", and bring him comfort, but this event will only bring him more fear when it does occur. ...read more.

Middle

It may not be Pandora's box, but could have just the same level of devastation in the wrong hands. When Steven opens the box, he hesitates, but still puts his hand "cautiously inside", and then pulls his "hand away" quickly, leaving us with the idea that something has hurt Steven. No adult would do such a thing, but children are reckless and this will always fuel the outcomes uncertainty in this novel. When the "darkness" changes and Steven begs for the moons little eclipses of light we feel his desperation, "at any moment" the moon will reveal itself along with a lot of other things. Frayn has exposed Steven's naivety through his hope of light, which will only bring a cold kind of comfort. When Steven becomes aware of the "sound of the world changing" he identifies it has his own breathing that "no longer corresponds". We know at an instant what this means: Steven holds his breath to stop breathing, and in the process reveals another presence. ...read more.

Conclusion

The story has climaxed at this point. Steven and the intruder have realised each others presence, which has ended in a "raucous gasp" . Both are still, motionless and breathless, but Steven will not turn to look, as you don't when you are in a dreadful nightmare with a "terrible figure behind you,", Frayn has played the horror card well, as Steven's fears have reached new heights. Steven's wish for light has backfired, and now he wishes the moon to go behind the clouds again so he may be camouflaged. When this does finally happen the intruder scuttles away through the "wire fence" and into the "lanes". Frayn explains Stevens fear, as too severe to initiate any movement, he is as, "immobile as stone", and still racked with fear. We have a vision of Steven shaking, sweating and paler than white, but still able to take flight. We feel the dread of Steven's experience and are glad that Frayn's intruder flees, as Steven now can "hurl" himself into the tunnel he is familiar with all the fear attached, as he goes into the unknown again, or "booming darkness". ...read more.

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