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Compare two stories from Opening Worlds which explore the idea of conflict - 'The Winter Oak' and 'The Red Ball',

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9th October 2002 Compare two stories from Opening Worlds which explore the idea of conflict The two short stories, 'The Winter Oak' and 'The Red Ball', are set in completely different cultures. For example, 'The Winter Oak' is set in Communist Russia and 'The Red Ball' is set in Port of Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago. This is the main difference between the stories. 'The Winter Oak' is set in Russia where the main belief is of equality, while 'The Red Ball' is set in the very relaxed Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago. The technique of the authors shows this great contrast in culture. However, although they are both set in different cultures, they are both set at around the same time. They are both set in the mid 20th century, a time of tragedy and war! Both the stories are written about 'outsiders' (people who don't fit into their society). For example, 'The Winter Oak' is written about a young schoolboy who doesn't fit into society, and who lives very much in his own little world. In the classroom, his fellow classmates ridicule the boy, who is called Savushkin, as he is regarded as inferior. He is very caught up in his own world, which seems to revolve around a winter oak tree. 'Savushkin stood up in his desk, and shouted out in a ringing tone: 'Winter oak.' ...read more.


In 'The Winter Oak', the conflicts are between the teacher and the school, (the teacher and the pupil), and between the 'outsider' and the Russian society. In 'The Winter Oak', the teacher realises that the pupil doesn't fit into the society, and she tries to help him. He brings her 'into his own little world' by showing her his beloved winter oak tree, and here he becomes the teacher, as his life seems to revolve around the winter oak. For example, in line 192 it reads, 'No, Anna Vasilevna, I'm swaying this branch, and that's its shadow moving.' Anna Vasilevna bit hr tongue. Clearly here in the forest she had better keep quiet.' These three sentences tell us that in the forest, Savushkin, the little boy, is the teacher, while Anna Vasilevna is the pupil. Nagibin here uses a clever technique in which he reverses the roles of the teacher and the pupil. The relationship between the pupil and the teacher is quite strong, as she feels sorry for him. He also treats her with respect, for after all, he is her teacher. However, the relationship between the boy and society isn't as strong. He doesn't fit into society at all, as he lives very much in his own world. He is an outsider, and the teacher and his classmates know it. He is very much isolated in the story, and the reader can't help but to feel sorry for him. ...read more.


This is not the case with the boy in 'The Winter Oak'. Although they are both 'outsiders', the boy in 'The Red Ball' attempts to fit into society and will soon, in my opinion, be part of it. However, Savushkin, in 'The Winter Oak' isn't a newcomer. He just naturally doesn't fit into society. He is very much stuck up in his own little world, but this is not the case with the boy in 'The Red Ball'. The boy in 'The Red Ball' (although he doesn't show it) desperately wants to fit into society, but Savushkin shows no intention of this. He is content being excluded from society, for all he is bothered about is his winter oak. However, apart from that little factor, the stories are very similar. As a conclusion, I can safely say that the two stories are based about 'outsiders', as this is their main similarity. The main difference between the stories is the cultures in which they are set, but apart from that they are very much similar. Nagibin and Khan both use similar writing techniques, as they both write from the eyes of a narrator. They are both very similar stories. They were both an enjoyable read, but my favourite has got to be 'The Winter Oak'. This is because the author makes us feel sorry for Savushkin. Also, the author is very clever when he reverses the role between the teacher and the pupil. It is a very exciting and interesting read. ...read more.

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