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What happens in the story? Superman and Paula Brown's New Snowsuit is a short story written in 1955.

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Introduction

What happens in the story? Superman and Paula Brown's New Snowsuit is a short story written in 1955. It was published in the collection Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams and other prose writings (1978). If you have not yet read the story, then do so before you read this summary! In a very simple way the title is well chosen - for the first part of the story is about Superman and the second about the snowsuit. But this also shows that the story begins with pleasant fantasy and ends in unpleasant reality. And there is no Superman to rescue the narrator - only Uncle Frank to help her accept what has happened. The story tells how the narrator (whose name never appears) plays games in which she makes up adventures for Superman. Later she is invited to the birthday party of a wealthy spoilt child, Paula Brown. Paula is proud of her birthday present, a blue snowsuit from Sweden. Some time later, Paula is playing tag in the snow when another child pushes her and she falls into an oil slick, which ruins her snowsuit. Paula blames the narrator and the other children also join in the accusation. Although her Uncle Frank believes her, the narrator has no happy ending to her story - everyone is convinced that she is to blame for the damage to the snowsuit. The themes of this story This is a story in which ideas are very important - perhaps more than the characters. Scapegoats The story shows how ready some people are to shift the blame for their own actions onto someone else. This has an obvious relevance to the story's wartime setting. In Europe the Nazi party encouraged Germans to blame Jews and communists for the past problems of the country. In the USA many citizens were imprisoned for the duration of the war because they had Japanese or German parents. ...read more.

Middle

Obviously this story could be retold from the viewpoint of other characters in it - and the story would seem very different. How would Sheldon, or Paula or Uncle Frank tell it? In terms of grammar, this means that the first person pronouns (I, me) and possessives (my, mine) appear frequently in the text. Speech and dialogue In the early part of the story there is little speech - just one statement from the narrator's mother. When Paula ruins her snowsuit, the writer gives the exact words spoken. Here she repeats the childish accusation: "You did it". Later the narrator inverts this expression: "I didn't do it" and repeats it several times. In the final part of the story, as she talks to her mother and uncle, the narrator gives us a more detailed account of the conversation, using direct speech. This gives a sense of Uncle Frank's closeness to his niece. Language Sylvia Plath tries here to show us the thoughts of a nine year old. Do you think that she writes like a child? Can you find things in the text that suggest that an educated adult wrote this story? You might consider: * The structure of sentences - most are simple or compound sentences, but sometimes you find things like the sentence beginning: "The fire bell would ring..." * The lexicon (vocabulary choices) - do you know the meaning of words such as: "kaleidoscope", "flaunted", "sallow", "incognito", "foreboding", "organdie", "ju-jitsu" and "colossal"? (English borrows many of these words from other languages.) * Control of grammar - for example verb tenses and pronoun forms. British and US English Sylvia Plath was brought up in the USA, and her writing sometimes shows a preference for American forms. English is now an international language, though it exists in many varieties, which reflect particular countries, cultures or other organizations. Differences between US and UK or British English are well known to those who study languages. ...read more.

Conclusion

She must also learn to control imagination, which may take the form of superstition, as when she is locked in the Red Room. When she is a child, her passions erupt unchecked, with both positive and negative results. * Jane's need for love is so great that, according to Charles Burkhart, "Love is a religion in Jane Eyre." A closer scrutiny of Jane's romantic relationships raises the question of whether they are really power struggles for control and, perhaps, show some sado- masochistic tendencies. * She must also learn to adapt her desire for experience and independence to her dependent position. * An orphan, she suffers the humiliations of being dependent on the charity of wealthy relatives. Though as an adult she supports herself as a teacher and a governess, she insists on her status as a lady and struggles with feelings of inferiority. She alternates between submission and rebellion, between passivity and self-assertion, between restraint and freedom. * Jane's quest for self-fulfillment is tied to her spiritual growth. When divine love and human love prove incompatible, Jane is forced to choose between them. Other Characteristics Jane as child and adult is the outsider who searches for family and place. She can also be seen as the Other. It has been suggested that at least part of the appeal of Jane Eyre comes from its fulfilling common fantasies and wishes. According to this theory, we feel that we are orphans, that the family we are living with is not our real family; we want to punish the parents (and other authority figures) who thwarted childhood desires by saying "no" to us; we desire wealth and the perfect mate. Jane Eyre fulfills these desires and dreams, and it justifies the punishment of cruel authority figures like Aunt Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst, who deserve what they get. Think about this theory as you read the novel and decide whether you agree with it. The image clusters running through this novel are fire, the moon, the weather, windows, and mirrors. Jane's paintings serve to characterize her and her situation. ...read more.

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