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Hieroglyphics; by Anne Donovan

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Hieroglyphics; by Anne Donovan. Hieroglyphics is an emotional short story relating to the traumatic school experiences of Mary Ryan, a young girl struggling to cope with her undiagnosed dyslexia. The story takes us through her primary and secondary experiences, and also the differences in the way teachers treat her, and also how Mary herself doesn't know what is wrong with her, since she's the only one in her classes who is struggling so much. No teachers think to test her to figure out what is wrong, and just class her as 'dumb'. We see how Mary learns to cope with her problem, and how she discovers hieroglyphics as a way to communicate. Through her choice of characters and captivating plot, Anne Donovan has managed to touch us all as readers, allowing us to empathise with Mary all throughout the story. In the story, we get a glimpse of what life and school are like for a dyslexic child, when there is no support available. Mary Ryan, the main character of the story, is the narrator, and tells us her thoughts and feelings throughout her classes. We learn how she feels left out, since the other children treat her differently since she is simply not the same as them, of course they do not understand why. ...read more.


Throughout primary school, Mary enjoys herself, as there are no struggles, although we feel sorry for her as her peers are progressing and learning new skills, while she stays the same, unable to read + write properly. As Mary goes up to secondary school, she is still treated as 'dumb' and is on the list for remedial classes. We see her struggling right from the first day, when the simple task of copying out rules proves to be a battle for her, she can see what she wants to put down on the paper, and tries, but it's a battle she is losing, and it just doesn't work out well. She even classes it as a "dug's dinner", as she can tell herself that it isn't up to the same standard as that of the people around her. Mary has very little self confidence, not that any one else has confidence in her however, the teachers just see her as something they have to put up with, not something which they could easily attempt to fix. Since we can see that what should be a simple, easy task, is quite the opposite for Mary, we can imagine a sense of hopelessness for her, and we begin to wonder that if she can't manage that then how will she begin to hope with the actual lessons? ...read more.


After only looking at the title of the short story, we would imagine the story to be something to do with Egyptians, or something which is important and cherished, as hieroglyphics are in today's world. We would at least expect the story to be positive, but things don't turn out this way, and we see the word hieroglyphics being used negatively, as an insult by Mr Kelly. The story goes from Mary feeling left out - as she shows when she says "ah fund masel oot the dance wioot a partner. And it wasnae nice," we see then how she feels insecure, and not confident in herself at at all - to her being confident after writing a story in her own version of hieroglyphics, and she produces a piece of work of which she is proud of. She had finally found a way of written communication, even if its not the same as everyone else's, but something unique to her, which fills her with confidence. She actually describes her own work as "neat", which is a sharp contrast to the "dugs dinner" she began with. When she 'plants' her story on top of the pile, in the middle of the teachers desk, it gives us a very good ending, full of positivity compared to the negativity at the beginning. ...read more.

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