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How does Sebastian Faulks introduce the character of Stephen Wraysford in book one of Birdsong?

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Introduction

How does Sebastian Faulks introduce the character of Stephen Wraysford in book one of Birdsong? An initial response to the character of Stephen Wraysford is hard to develop since Stephen is thrown into family life with the Azaires in the opening pages of the novel. He is an English visitor gathering information on the textile industry in France. His French speaking is impeccable and he is extremely well mannered throughout part one of the novel. Stephens first meeting with the family illustrates and reflects his polite manner as he greets the family in a formal way. "He took her hand and bowed his head briefly" Also at the dinner table "Madame Azaire has not fully addressed Stephens eye, in return he avoids hers, as though waiting to be addressed." Stephen attempts to bond with the children by allowing them to ask him questions and when they are rebuked by their parents he tells them he did not mind their question. His first interaction with others in the novel creates a friendly atmosphere. Even though he is a guest he welcomes personal questions about himself that are usually seen as offensive in a cheerful manner. ...read more.

Middle

The reader then finds out why Stephen is so afraid of birds "It had maggots under its wing and drooling, milky eyes", a valid reason for fearing birds is giving with a graphic description of his trauma. The reader therefore feels empathy towards Stephen and sympathy is gained. When Stephen confides in Isabelle about his childhood new sorrow is found for the character since many traumatic events occurred in such a short period of years. His father abandoned him and his mother, his mother left him with his grandparents and had another family, and he was eventually taken away from them and put into an institution. Even when a 'rich' and intelligent man saves Stephen from the institution it is not a happy ending "I didn't like him. I thought he would treat me like his son. But he didn't he just made me work." His short and quick paced sentences suggest this is the first time he is sharing the story with anyone and he is clearly very distressed about his experience, he feels that his life has been some sort of social experiment. The reader is encouraged to feel that his whole childhood has been a great injustice. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Stephen gets blackmailed by, he should be mature and adult enough to know he has to say no as she is only a young girl and he is a man, "Despite himself, Stephen felt a reflex feeling if desire". This image of her being a young girl and not yet fully mature enough to handle a sexual relationship is proved when as he touches her she gets scared "I want to go now. I want to go home" this plea of fright from Lisette creates a perverted picture of Stephen and causes distrust from the reader to his character, this point leaves many unanswered questions about the intentions of Stephen. The reader is left questioning what they know about Stephen's character because of some comments made by Isabelle at the end of part one "I truly love him, but he frightens me a little". They are left questioning whether Faulks has not mentioned a personality trait, which will later be revealed, or that Isabelle is simply frightened of her new life and tries to attach this anxiety with Stephen. Natasha De Stefano ...read more.

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