• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Authors essays

  1. Examine the presentation of the relationship between Keith and Stephen in Spies

    Stephen realises by now that part of the reason for Keith's actions are what is happening in his house, he says, "the crime he's punishing in me is not mine at all, but one that's being committed in his own house."

  2. Analyse the ways in which Frayn presents the relationship between Stephen and Keith in ...

    at Stephen's house with the crowd of children, stark realisation sets in: "I've ceased to be his friend; I've become one of the mob". The two clauses in this sentence are very short, and this has a definite effect on the interpretation.

  1. How does Frayn present young Stephen in the first three chapters of "Spies"? How ...

    In being so trustworthy of what Keith says, it also shows that Stephen is very na�ve, because he rarely questions anything and just accepts it as true. Presenting him as na�ve means that this could cause two opinions of Stephen; we could either find this trait annoying, or find the

  2. How Effectively Does Frayn Use Barbara Berrill in 'Spies'?

    This to us can sound quite explicit and definitely has sexual connotations but to Barbara and Stephen this is something new and not really properly understood, therefore it is quite effective as we again understand more about what is going on between them then they probably do, despite the fact

  1. Discuss the relationship between Keith and Stephen that is presented in the first Six ...

    The quote "he was the only first in a whole series of dominant figures in my life whose disciple I became,' shows that he admired his friend more than his parents who are meant to be role models. They never played at Stephens' house as Keith had far more toys

  2. What do you find noteworthy about the narrative voice in Spies?

    When Stephen discovers that Keith's mother is a German spy, he says: A father in the Secret Service and a mother who's a German spy - when the rest of us can't muster even one parent of interest! This, of course, is incredibly ironic as this is not true at

  1. "Spies" By Michael Frayn - What is the function of the photographs in chapter ...

    Auntie Dee and Uncle Peter have continuously been portrayed as the more extroverted and relaxed duo, and this is apparent, especially in the photo of Uncle Peter where is he said to be "standing on his head" with Auntie Dee "holding him by the ankles", however the most apparent contrast

  2. Analyse how Frayn presents relationships between adults and children in Spies

    and even the bobbly purse that he initially despised. Yet, he is not exactly bowled over by their 'Tentative sexual experiments: 'manages not to flinch and politely says that the kiss is 'Quite nice' (pg 186).With the cigarette he shares with Barbara, Stephen imagines he starts to approach adulthood: 'I

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work