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Examine the Portrayal of the Outsider in Three Short Stories - 'The Son's Veto' by Thomas Hardy (Sophy) 'The Basement Room' by Graham Greene (Philip).

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Introduction

David Humphries Examine the Portrayal of the Outsider in Three Short Stories 'The Son's Veto' by Thomas Hardy (Sophy) 'The Basement Room' by Graham Greene (Philip) 'Uncle Ernest' by Alan Sillitoe (Ernest) In each of the three stories, 'The Son's Veto' by Thomas Hardy, 'The Basement Room' by Graham Green and 'Uncle Ernest' by Alan Silitoe, the respective writer conveys a sense of isolation regarding the central character. There are numerous similarities between the characters based on their common plight, but each story differs in the portrayal of these characters. The writer's effectively present the characters using a varying range of literary styles. In 'The Son's Veto' the disabled Sophy is denied happiness from not fitting in to a higher social class. Graham Green in 'The Basement Room' employs a surreal situation to demonstrate the vulnerability and naiveity of youth. 'Uncle Ernest' is a story, which adopts a dreary approach to Ernest's life. The opening descriptions of the three characters are very effective and induce stereotypical views. This applies to Ernest especially in 'Uncle Ernest' as we first hear of him wearing a "dirty raincoat" and looking as though he "hadn't washed for a month". ...read more.

Middle

An example of this is when he can't identify with people that don't bare similarity to the "Bastables" "nor the adventures of Emil". Philips lack of company and companionship leaves him insecure and unprepared. Surrounding characters have the most significant effect on causing the depression of each of the main characters. Baines heavily influences Philip in "The Basement Room". Philip's vulnerability is raised when he is asked by Baines to lie in front of the police as Baines begged "dumbly" like a dog. Philip has never seen the unstable and dumb side of Baines and therefore can't relate to the situation of Baines being extremely reliant upon him to lie. The inflicted pressure will haunt Philip for the rest of his life. There is a reversal of roles from Philip to Ernest in "Uncle Ernest". Ernest becomes reliant upon two young girls for his only source of companionship. Ernest entered a state of "oblivious contentment" whenever he is with Alma and Joan. Ernest temporarily forgets about his loneliness and gains a will to live. The perception of others may consist of looking upon him as a paedophile yet this situation is purely innocent and equally beneficial. ...read more.

Conclusion

Questions of justice are raised which leaves Ernest with a negative attitude towards life baring much similarity to his status before he met the girls. The use of the words "familiar emptiness" suggests a format of eternal sadness therefore evoking much sympathy for the reader. It is ironic, as Ernest has done nothing to deserve this end especially after fighting in the war. The reader is overwhelmed with sympathy for Ernest, as nothing ever seems to result in happiness for him. Our sympathies lie with all three characters as their isolation has been conveyed to the reader effectively by each author. Philips loneliness is a result of a troubled up bringing which leaves him mentally scared for life. Sophy and Ernest on the other hand are similar to each other and unlike Philip. They both induce a sense of helplessness in the reader after a life of persistent disappointment denies them from any chance of happiness. It becomes almost inevitable that Ernest and Sophy would end up completely isolated as events throughout the stories favor this outcome. On the other hand Philip's situation is different, he is portrayed as a very vulnerable character and it's as if he is prevented from ever having a chance to live a life. ...read more.

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