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Explore how Frayn creates the voice of the narrator in chapter one of 'Spies'

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'Explore how Frayn creates the voice of the narrator in chapter one of Spies' Michael Frayn uses a variety of literary devices to create a sense of voice and depth to the main character of his novel Spies, with each allowing us to see another facet of the characters' personality. Within the opening chapter, the protagonist's thought processes are clearly defined, and a voice is immediately established by the tone set. As the novel is largely told in first person, we immediately are aware that the novel will be told from Steven's perspective as the protagonist. One of his methods for creating this almost omniscient atmosphere is a stream of consciousness technique. This creates the effect of the protagonist's inner voice, and allows us to feel that we are witness to not only the character's actions, but also their innermost thoughts and feelings. This allows us greater insight to the character's true personality, allowing us into his innermost thoughts, rather than just how he is perceived through his actions and in dialogue. ...read more.


The memory that Stephen recalls at the beginning of the novel appears to be triggered by a simple smell, yet does not appear to be fully understood. This is clearly expressed with the stream of consciousness, allowing the reader to experience some of the frustration of the narrator at being able to only recall these fragments. "Glimpses of different things flash into my mind, in random sequence, and are gone." It is also emphasised with the use of ellipses and question phrases, displaying a sense of uncertainty, and self-doubt as well as the fragmented thought processes. "What about Keith himself? Does he ever think about the things that happened that summer?" "A shower of sparks... A feeling of shame... Someone unseen coughing, trying not to be heard..." Coupled with the issue of memory is the constant conflict of nostalgia and trepidation with regard to his childhood. A number of the adjectives have harsh, negative connotations that tend to indicate an unhappy or disturbed childhood. ...read more.


This allows the reader to differentiate between the reality of the protagonist's location and environment, and his subconscious. It also allows us to acquire more factual knowledge about the character - his occupation, his family situation, his age. These details would be harder to access from a stream of consciousness alone, as stream of consciousness tends to deal with more of the emotional aspect to the character. The switch in perspective also allows us to differentiate between the reflective thoughts of the narrator now, who can look upon the past with the benefit of hindsight, and the child-like thoughts of the narrator when he was younger. It is within this switch in perspective that we are given an example of the protagonist's inner turmoil with regard to his own identity, and the conflict that is created by his feeling of not belonging in society. It also introduces the concept of the narrator's dual nationality and bilingualism. "Hold on. Was my daughter speaking English when she told me that? ... No - she wasn't." This appears to be a crucial plot point that would have not be raised had the shift in perspective not occurred. ...read more.

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