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Prose Assessment.

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Higher Literature Prose Assessment Vernon Scannell writes "And then they came, the walking wounded / Straggling the road like convicts loosely chained" in his poem "Walking Wounded". This is where William McIllvanney took his inspiration from for his book of short stories- "Walking Wounded." All of his short stories are abotu people who are metaphorically the 'walking wounded', they have been wounded in life, hurt in someway and they feel that life has let them down. The theme of lonliness is very apparent in most of McIllvanney's stories and looking at the stories "Beached" and "Death of a Spinster" I will explore the theme of lonliness through charecterisation and symbolism. "Beached" is the story of a woman who goes to the beach with her children and thinks about a lot as they get ready to leave. In "Death of a Spinster" we are told the story of a woman whose life is a regimental routine but when she is unhexpectedly killed we find there is a very different side to her. "There was one yacht's sail out in the bay, sickled with wind stress, a cipher of all the journeys she would never make." The author's use of word choice in this sentence compares the yacht to Marion and her life. The yacht's sail is "sickled" by the stress of the wind just as Marion is crumbling and breaking down because of the stress of losing her partner. ...read more.


She is lost in a world of her own thoughts, she just lies back and looks at the clouds and her thoughts take over and lonliness comes into play. The contrast is quite clear as while Marion is lying back on a beach not knowing what to do with herself, the spinster is keeping to her schedule dressing "...in the clothes she laid out the previous night." Symbolism plays a big part in both of the stories and adds to the effect of the theme of lonliness. "And she was held again in that moment where near gold of an afternoon converts to lead, the recurrent mood of life's failed alchemy." Alchemy is an ancient process of trying to turn lead into gold, but in Marion's case the alchemt has been reversed and her golden life with her husband and two children has been converted to lead. The symbol of failed alchemy is very effective as it shows the extent to which Marion is feeling lonliness and loss, it shows the impact her husbands death has had on her, she has been left with a big lump of lead in her heart. Symbolism is also used when the author compares the clouds to Marions thoughts. In Marion's mind the clouds are all of the things she won't be doing again now that her husband is gone. When she looks up at the clouds she sees "... ...read more.


As Marion gets ready to leave the beach she is reminded of why she goes on living, she thinks about her children and says "...she embarced them both, hoarding the profit of her loss." This is a paradox as you do not usually gain anything from a loss. She is saying that the only good thing that has come from her tragedy are her shildren, they are what she has gained from the loss of her husband. You could look at it another way though and say that her children are actually a painful reminder of her husband and that why she is upset when she embraces them. This shows that she is very lonely without her husband and her children do not compensate. "Death of a Spinster" and "Beached" are brilliantly written stories that succeed in realistically conveying the theme of lonliness which is very meaningful in as you can relate and sympathise with the characters. You can see why they feel they have been let down and wounded by life, I think this is what McIllvanney wants the reader to see. The theme of lonliness also adds to the readers enjoyment of the text by writing the story in a very informal format and using discreet literary devices to get the reader to relate to the character because the reader will see the character as a normal person like themselves. Symbolism is the authors greatest technique and really makes the characters seem like real people and builds up a clear mental picture of them. By Victoria Maule 5G2 ...read more.

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