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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Other Authors essays

  1. In the Necklace, How does Guy de Maupassant succeed in creating a story which ...

    After she loses the necklace, his character changes as he knows that not only will her mistake affect her, but it will also affect him, his reputation and his life due to paying back debts. He then takes a more dominant position.

  2. In the short stories A Great Day by Frank Sargeson and The Sniper by ...

    Only occasionally does he allow himself to make poor decisions, notably when he decides to risk lighting a cigarette, which alerts the enemy soldiers to his location on the roof. Once the Sniper has killed the people around him, he looks over the rooftop at the three people he has

  1. In Anne Donovans short story All That Glisters, the main characters personality change is ...

    To make her father feel better, Clare goes to the trouble of purchasing a brand new pack of glitters to create a Christmas card for her father. Upon reaching home, Clare senses something is wrong, and then is brought to light by her mother who tells her that her father has passed away.

  2. The Intersection of External Time and Internal Time in Mrs Dalloway

    In the fluid nature of consciousness, temporal limits and definitions lose their distinctiveness. Indeed, Woolf constantly blurs the distinction between dream and reality. As David Daiches suggests, Woolf "presents the individual stream of consciousness as compounded of retrospect and anticipation .

  1. Old man and the sea essays. In the book " The old man and ...

    He sets up another fishing rig slowly, making sure that he does not move two quickly and startle the marlin, while constantly concentrating on the fishing line that the marlin is on. The best example that shows that Santiago possess ambition is right after he catches the marlin and begin to head home.

  2. "The darkness out there". Penelope Lively develops Mrs. Rutters character in many ways, with ...

    A contrast is that in the darkness out there there is a lot of dialogue and the colloquial language used adds to the ordinariness of the setting in contrast to the horror of the story : on the other hand in when the wasps drowned the writing is

  1. Catch22 Extract Questions and Answers.

    Yossarian also feels that the Nurse Cramer didn?t respect the soldier in white. The reason why Yossarian could think this is because he thinks Nurse Cramer sees him as her ?Housework? and Keeps him ?Spick and Span? so she can be proud of it.

  2. Birdsong: Is it possible for readers to feel any sympathy for Azaire in the ...

    It gives the impression that this character feels lonely however she betrays Rene so she does not feel this. This can make the readers feel sorry him as his wife is cheating on him and does not love him. You can see also near the start of the novel that

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