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A Literary Commentary: the L-Shaped Room

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A Literary Commentary At rock-bottom, pregnant, in a dark, dirty room, and sharing the building with prostitutes, one may still (surprisingly!) have thought to spare in noticing the irony of their situation. The extract from "The L-Shaped Room," by Lynne Reid Banks, is taken from page 1 of chapter 1, so even without reading, it can be understood that the purpose of it is to 'set the scene' and introduce the main character, or at least provide an interesting and grasping introduction to the novel. It is not too clear if there was a definite intention other than that in three paragraphs, but there is a substantially big revelation in relation to the narrative character at the end of the last paragraph, that she was pregnant. The extract takes readers into the mind of that woman as they read her thoughts in relation to the place she is in and the people ...read more.


Finally, and very subtly, what highlights the reader's overall impressions of the place and people is that "Just because you don't ask questions ... doesn't mean you're not curious," which gives the impression that eyes follow her in that place and that judgment is made, enhancing the negative qualities of the space. The use of pathetic fallacy in the extract mirrors the feelings of the character with her sordid surroundings, and since space description predominates, consequentially, so does that of her character. The "greyish sort of day," "dark brown wallpaper inside and peeling paint outside" and "old ink-written notice" show to be very effective as an indication of her feelings. The passage seems rather bleak and the reader's feelings are those of the character, who seems very depressed, and there might even be sympathy for her being in such a horrible place, which also accentuates a certain difficulty of the condition, aided by her pregnancy. ...read more.


The fact that it is narrated in first person is significant as it approaches the reader to the character as there is no 'wall' (third person narrator) in between. However, this also implies that the written point of view is subjective to her character. There is no change of pace or anything too remarkable about it in the extract, probably because there is negligible action, added to the fact that moderately lengthy, dull and slow descriptions with a hint of irony reflect her present life. It might be the character's apathy or the place's weariness that provides us with the impression of an unhappy period, but the various hints of her acceptance towards such life shows us the character does not want, or need, sympathy, and one might be led to believe she is independent or even stubborn. In other words, she can take care of herself. ?? ?? ?? ?? Hannah Steinitz ...read more.

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