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With detailed reference to at least 3 symbols explore how Frayn employs symbolism in spies.

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Introduction

With detailed reference to at least 3 symbols explore how Frayn employs symbolism in spies. In the novel 'spies' Michael Frayn's use of symbolism is mainly expressed through first person narrative. Three of the most important uses of symbolism are expressed through the 'X', the privet and germs and Germans. The 'X' is repeated throughout the whole novel and acts as a chorus every time the boys investigate Keith's mother. Frayn's use of 'X' begins on page forty eight when Stephen and Keith are looking through Keith's mothers diary 'a tiny x...whatever this inconspicuous symbol means it plainly not meant to be read or understood by anyone else. We've stumbled across something that is actually secret' the X is a secret symbol but not for the reasons that the boys believe. Stephen and Keith see more and more X's as they go through the diary however they come to completely the wrong conclusion as they suspect she is operating with Germans as opposed to it being her period. The X becomes one of the most important factors in the boys 'investigations'. ...read more.

Middle

Frayn uses the growth of the privet bush as it symbolises Stephen's growing maturity 'It's something quite harsh and coarse. It reeks. It has a kind of sexual urgency to it'. The sexual urgency may reflect back to Barbara Berril and the kiss in the privet bush. It is clear that the bush is a source of dismay for Stephen as he tries to keep it hidden from the outside world 'the source of all my unrest is this plain ordinary privet' The language used causes an antithesis with 'great' clashing with 'plain ordinary' One of the most ironic things about the privet is that it also symbolises Stephen and Keith's naivety as neither of them know what it means or even how to spell it 'PRIVET' '"Very thoughtful of you chaps to put that label on it" she says indicating the tile guarding the entrance passageway "privet"' "Oh I see!" she says "Private! How priceless"' this moment of embarrassment occurs when Stephen is lonely and vulnerable in the privet and Keith's mother comes over to question him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout the novel germs themselves are heavily linked with Germans as Stephen sees both of them as filthy and disgusting 'Even if people kissed people in the blackout they certainly didn't kissed germ-laden Germans' Frayn uses Stephen's fear of germs to express his hatred of Germans throughout the entire novel 'Lavatories of some sort and of some particular disgusting sort that's full of germs' this is not only a typical example of Stephen's hatred of germs but is a clever reference back to the confusions between a privee and a privet. Stephen's fear of germs is at its most extreme level when he is back in the privet alone with Barbara Berril when Barbara is mocking Stephen 'she puts it between and pretends to smoke it giggling "you'll get germs!" I cry shocked and when she goes as far as planting a kiss in his lips all he can think about is that which his life has been revolved around, germs and Germans 'I hadn't really got round to thinking about whether it was nice or not I was to busy thinking about germs. Throughout the novel 'Spies' Frayn uses these three symbols to great effect to portray the true characters of Keith and Stephen. ...read more.

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