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Compare the structure and setting Of the two short stories 'The Half Brothers' By Elizabeth Gaskall and 'The Darkness Out There' by Penelope Lively.

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Compare the structure and setting Of the two short stories 'The Half Brothers' By Elizabeth Gaskall and 'The Darkness Out There' by Penelope Lively. In each story the narrative tension Builds to a distressingly inevitable climax. Discuss how this is achieved and its effect Upon the reader. "The Darkness Out There" is a short story set around three main characters. It begins with a girl called Sandra who is on her way to go and help the old Mrs Rutter with her housework. On her way, she comes across Kerry, a young lad who also, is on his way to visit the old woman to help out around the garden. They are both in a club known as the Good Neighbours, which is run to help elderly people in the community with their household work. The two ask her whether she knows about the local wood, which looked ghostly, and was well known by all the locals to be haunted. The friendly atmosphere soon changes towards the end when Mrs Rutter tells the Kerry and Sandra what she experienced in the war. The tale shocked the two into getting up and leaving a little quicker than they would have done normally. "Half-Brothers" is the second story we looked at. It starts by someone telling a tale of his mother. It is told how her husband and first daughter died and tells of the grief she suffered, but it does this in a very detached way and the reader is unable to feel any real pity towards the characters. The story is told in a basic way and moves along without any real description or scenery. This is very unlike "The Darkness Out There", which has sections filled with detailed descriptions about the narrators surroundings. Sandra describes the house and its location, and the scenery inside the cottage. This is different compared to the way in which the "Half-Brothers" story is narrated, with only events being talked about. ...read more.


The images of sweet old Mrs Rutter contrasts with those of Packers Wood, subtly suggesting that we must be prepared for what happens next. When the odd jobs are done and everyone sits down to have a 'friendly chat' we find out that during the war, Mrs Rutter let a German Airman die when his plane crashed in Packers End, and how she and her sister left a young person to die in a broken up plane. The fact that they checked on him several times during the two days before he died, and didn't help him, or even tell anyone else because 'it was raining cats and dogs, foggy too', the reader was totally unprepared for. We are immediately shocked at how someone who we thought of as 'nice' had such evil in them, and so are the teens. Sandra already knows how her husband died in the war, but the way Mrs. Rutter tells the story, so matter-of-factly and with no shame or regret, increases the tension between them all, and Kerry couldn't believe what he was hearing. He doesn't understand how someone could leave another person to die, and to him, the fact they were in a war, where people are killed, doesn't make a difference. I suppose that if a person has not experienced the feelings of what its like to be in a war, to lose someone you dearly love, then there will never be able to totally understanding as to how someone could do something so sad. I also believe that during the 1930's and the 1940's, people had a different way of life. The fact that Mrs Rutter lost her husband in the war made her feel as though the 'jerry plane' crashing was a blessing, and it is obvious she has no regrets. We see how Sandra has an insight at why Mrs. Rutter felt she had nothing to be sorry for in acting this way. ...read more.


The tension in "the darkness out there" is that of fear, of shock, but in "half brothers" it comes across in sadness...of the tragic events that happened in the story and the unfortunate fate of Gregory. "The Half-Brothers" is a very detached story, as the narrator does not seem to have any sort of connection with the people he is talking about, even though he is the second son, he bears no name throughout the whole story. The narrator in "The Darkness Out There" I would say is Sandra. I think this because right at the very end of the story, it is Sandra who does what seems to be a conclusion, and this brings out her maturity. At the beginning she is annoyed by something so small as who she has to work with, but the events that happen show her how "everything is not always as it appears". At the end, it is not only Kerry who has 'grown', but herself too. My Own Personal Views: I found the story "Half-Brothers" more informative and its structure appealed to me more because I found it more interesting. However I found the contrast between darkness and light in the story by Penelope Lively rather fascinating. The twist and turns of the short story were very cleverly put together to form a roller coaster of a read. When I was reading the beginning of the story about sunshine and flowers I started to think about the title and how it seemed very strange in connection to what I was reading. The reader could quite easily become stuck into what at first seems like some kind of fairytale, only to be suddenly hit by a somewhat shocking ending which is totally unexpected. "Half-Brothers" has a rather steady flow. I do not mean by this that there is no tension because that certainly is not the case. The tale has a very tragic structure all the way through, and all throughout reading this story, as a reader, I felt generally saddened almost as though it were a true story. ...read more.

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