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Discussing 'Chemistry', by Graham Swift.

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Chemistry, by Graham Swift In the story 'Chemistry', the author, Graham Swift, describes complicated relationships between a Grandfather, his daughter, her new partner and her son. Swift uses effectual symbolism to shape the stories meaning; the main one being Chemistry. Chemistry, scientifically, is the practice of the mixing of chemicals, however, if you get one measurement wrong, for example, there can be catastrophic results. This is a metaphor of the relationship between the long lasting trios, the entrance of the daughter's new partner, Ralph, upsets the balance between the existing relationships. The grandfather enjoyed model making, and together with his grandson, they used to launch a model boat across the local pond whilst the boy's mother would watch from 'outside' of the perimeter.(This gives a sense of resignation - she does not want to join in with their activity, it may remind her of her husband who passed away). ...read more.


This is ironic as you must be in control in Chemistry or things go wrong, again, symbolic of the fact that he is no longer in control of the relationship - Ralph has come into the relationship and he is gradually losing control. However, he is still in control of his chemical experiments, one of the only things that he has left. The boy sees Ralph as the intruder into the existing relationship. There is a sense of jealousy as previously everything was fine between the three and they all had a bond of love, until someone 'intruded' into the relationship, upsetting the otherwise fine balance. Ralph also begins to move deeper into the mother's heart - this also makes the boy jealous so he plans a scheming plot to 'ruin' Ralph's face so that he cannot be loved any more: he is going to throw acid into his face so that it is distorted and deformed. ...read more.


This is symbolic as the boy's use of language: 'mock' is implying that Ralph has intruded into the relationship and that he shouldn't be there. The last paragraph of the story is significant: the boy mentions when he visited the park and saw 'a bottle of acid and the wreck of my launch'. I think that this is significant as these are two very important pieces of the story, they are two symbols: The acid represents both the grandfather and the effect of chemistry, the fact that you must balance an equation for it to work successfully (metaphor of relationship) and the 'wreck' of the boys launch is also symbolic of the relationship, the 'wreck' of the relationship: it had not gone the way that the boy wanted it to go, Ralph had intruded and his grandfather had passed away. George Edwards ...read more.

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