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Bernard MacLavertys A Time to Dance is a short story which engenders a feeling of sympathy for the main character.

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Introduction

Aniqa Aslam "A Time to Dance" by Bernard MacLaverty Bernard MacLaverty's "A Time to Dance" is a short story which engenders a feeling of sympathy for the main character. The writer helps us to think about the issues and difficulties that arise in Nelson Skelly's everyday life as a result of poverty and family problems. "A Time to Dance" is set in modern times in Edinburgh, Scotland. We know this as it states: "The far end of Princes Street". Princes Street is a very prominent street in the heart of Edinburgh and this is confirmed when Nelson's mother is frightened by the "one o' clock gun" which goes off every day from Edinburgh Castle. We know that the story is set in modern times because it is brought to our attention that Nelson possesses an "Adidas" bag and in the opening scene, he is standing outside "Mothercare", a fairly modern baby care store. MacLaverty uses an omniscient style or narration which gives a panoramic view of the world of the story, looking into many characters and into the broader background of a story. This is effective because it gives the reader an insight in to the point of view and feelings of each character. ...read more.

Middle

Nelson receives a great deal of sympathy from the readers because we feel that he has lost a huge amount of the naivety he should have in his childhood, and Mrs Skelly is the one to deprive him of this. Even though we go on to discovering Nelson's irritating behaviour, we can't help but experience an overpowering feeling of sympathy for him. MacLaverty uses humour to highlight how devious Nelson must be to extract spending money from his mum: "So he had to invent other things to get the money out of his mother." This says a lot about Nelson's relationship with his mother because he feels as if he can't be honest with her as he knows he won't be able to reason with her and her set ways; so instead, he lies to her. We feel sorry that Mrs Skelly has no problem wasting money on her "blond wig", "perfume" and "all her bottles of makeup" but when it comes to her only son, she refuses to part with money without grumbling about it. Mrs Skelly's outburst upon learning of Nelson's skiving implies that she doesn't care about his education as much as she does of the thought of herself being locked up. ...read more.

Conclusion

This suggests that in life, things should follow a natural pattern and at different times of life, different things are most important. This is subtly applied to Mrs Skelly and her job at the strip club. At this point in her life, it definitely isn't "a time to dance", she should concerned about caring for her son's welfare and bringing him up correctly instead of satisfying herself. MacLaverty has also used irony here as the teacher describes the passage as: "One of the most beautiful passages in the whole of the Bible". This is very ironic as the quotation referring to Mrs Skelly is very "beautiful" whereas her exotic dancing at the strip club is the extreme opposite of everything it means and everything stands for. To conclude, MacLaverty demonstrates an effective and thought-provoking short story with "A Time to Dance" while incorporating numerous themes such as poverty, education and responsibility. It initiates us to not only sympathise with the financial struggles faced by some, but the vast impact it has on every minute aspect of their lives, physically, socially and mentally. MacLaverty has ingeniously combined a very stripped-down, simple story of Nelson with fascinating characters who have resorted to selfishness and aggression. The story leaves me more aware of the impact of poverty on the lives of Nelson and others just like him. ...read more.

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