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Both "The Signalman and The Darkness Out There have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how the stories end.

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Adam Bowen Both "The Signalman and The Darkness Out There have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how the stories end. In the first sentence of 'The Darkness Out There' a romanticised field is described which is calm, tranquil and serene. 'She walked through the flowers, the girl, ox-eye daisies and vetch and cow parsley, keeping to the track at the edge of the field'. 'Mrs. Rutter, Pat had said, "Mrs. Rutter at Nether Cottage, you don't know her, Sandra? She's a dear old thing, all on her own, of course, we try to keep an eye."' The contrast between this and the first sentence of the story is that it sounds mundane. Then immediately the author gives an impression of old people as 'dear old things'. This is a stereotype. The author describes the person who runs the Good Neighbours Club as 'not very nice looking'. This shows that even though the story is told in the third person, it is still Sandra's point of view that runs throughout the story. This is furthermore backed up by 'Are people who help other people always not very nice looking?' This is a further stereotype that shows that Sandra is self-opinionated. 'She looked down at her legs, the girl, bare brown legs brushing through the grass, polleny summer grass that glinted in the sun.' ...read more.


This is to impart a calming atmosphere and provides a contrast to when the helpers enter the house. 'She would walk like this through the silken grass with the wind seething the corn and the secret invisible life of birds'. Sandra is idealistic to ridiculous levels. This adds to the contrast when the helpers enter the house. As the two helpers draw near to the house, we get a stereotypical opinion from Sandra of the fellow helper she meets on to way to Nether Cottage. Although the story is told in the third person it is still Sandra's perspective: 'Not Susie. Not Liz either. Kerry Stevens from Richmond Way. Kerry Stevens that none of her lot reckoned much on, with his blacked licked-down hair and slitty eyes. Some people you only have to look at to know they're not up to much.' For Sandra, everything has to be nice. The idyllic atmosphere that was created outside the house changes once the youngsters enter the house. This is done in a subtle yet pervasive way. 'She seemed composed of circles, a cottage-loaf of a woman, with a face below which chins collapsed one into another, a creamy smiling pool of a face in which her eyes snapped and darted.' The predatory language creates tension. This is expanded on by the author describing the house in an odd way. 'The room was stuffy ... ...read more.


''"Resisting the slow touch of a frozen finger tracing out my spine, I showed him how that this figure must be a deception of his sense of sight; and how that figures, originating in disease of the delicate nerves that minister to the functions of the eye, were known to have troubled patients"'. Even at the end of the story the narrator still believes that what has happened is just a coincidence. When the narrator describes the environment that the signalman is in, he refers to it as a 'great dungeon'. He seems to be trapped in a prison that he cannot escape from. This makes the reader speculate as to whether the 'spectre' could be in his mind, or whether it could be the ghost cursing him. He is trapped by something or someone that is beyond his control. The train that rumbles by is almost personified. This suggests that the train is a dying person. The tunnel that is described is almost like the tunnel of death that people talk about when they have been unconscious and had a near death experience. The absence of plants and animals in the cutting makes it seem detached from the rest of the world. The environment is purgatory, the path between heaven and hell. The uneasy and disturbing mood that is created from the start by Dickens in 'The Signalman' makes the ending more effective and surprising. In 'The Darkness Out There' the mood changes which destroys the tension that Penelope Lively tries to build up. ...read more.

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