Analysis of how the character Daniel weir has changed throughout his journey in the book - Espedair Street by Iain Banks
Analysis of how the character Daniel weir has changed throughout his journey in the book.
Espedair Street by Iain Banks is a novel which is pretending to be a rock star autobiography; the story of a fictional seventies band Frozen Gold as told by bass player and song writer Danny Weir. It is told using a series of flashbacks which converge to explain the present, Danny living as a recluse, pretending to be his own caretaker in a bizarre Victorian folly in Glasgow. Espedair Street is about the emptiness that can come to fill the life of someone who has realised all his dreams on a massive scale and still not be where they want to be. It's also about other things like the hedonistic life of the seventies rock star, the things that we do that we regret and feel guilty about later, and the effects that these have on us. The hook for the story is its dramatic opening lines “two days ago I decided to kill my self” from this I gathered the book was set to be bleak although interesting, the reader would immediately be drawn in and want to read on.
What I found most effective was the way the character of Daniel Weir was developed constantly during the book. Daniel, also known as 'Weird', is a thirty-one year old reclusive rock star who has a pessimistic attitude towards life and is intensely introspective. Throughout his childhood he struggled to fit in with his peers and had a troubled relationship with his parents. This has led him to feel constantly self-conscious and he often talks about how ugly he is, "I'm a monster, a mutant, a gangling ape", "I've been a funny looking kid and I've blossomed into an ugly young man." This attitude gains Daniel a certain amount of sympathy from the reader because instead of feeling jealous of his famous lifestyle, I actually end up feeling sorry for him. As this young 16 year old boy Daniel found comfort in song writing, it is evident this is something he has confidence in “talent is what I had” but was less confident in his self image, this is clear when he says “I think you c-c-could go…you know (I wanted to say to the top)”although his stutter shows his nerves and shyness this is the moment he introduces his music to the local band Frozen Gold. Despite never actually intending to be part of a band only the writer of their music, he soon found himself rocketing to success. In a relatively short time he had gone from a local lad working at Dinwoodies engineering firm in paisley, to an international superstar. However fame and fortune didn't come easy for Daniel, as he had to sacrifice many meaningful things in his life for the sake of the band.
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We only get a brief look on the rock star jimmy hay, the name Daniel goes by in his famous other life. We get the sense he is tame for a rock star as Daniel is sensible compared with actions of his fellow band members that are no greater than that of documented real rock musicians. Daniels fame has great fortunes as well as misfortunes for instance his increasing income, “Frozen Gold, the five of us were probably out grossing the GNP of some small third world countries” which would have been of huge benefits and change to Weir due to his working class background. As Jimmy Hay Danny doesn’t only have to put up with the grand lifestyle, endless money supplies and large estates but also the deaths of band members and his cheating lovers which were on his conscience. It is because of these disadvantages and Jimmy’s fall from fame that Daniel is in the mess that begins the book.
As a retired rock star Daniel goes back to using his original name and tries to live an anonymous life away from his past. Daniel goes back to his beginning and returns to Glasgow where he leads a strange life. He ironically lives in a folly modelled to the shell of a church constructed by someone who lost hope in life and a complete insult to christainity. Like the folly Daniel lives an empty and hollow existence and a complete change from his young and his famous life. To his two friends, an alcoholic and a young juvenile Daniel is nothing different than themselves, claiming the folly’s not his and he’s only looking after it for his caretaker and keeping his fame a secret from his friends. His secluded life has also sunk low enough for Daniel to have a prostitute visit him twice a week having no meaningful relationship and an annoying pigeon his only companion. It is when Daniels true identity is seen by his post fame friends after and incident in a nightclub that he realises he can’t go on any longer pretending to be something he is not.
Weirs character also changes in the four days in which the book takes place from a depressed wreck on the verge of suicide at the start of the book to a blissfully content man due to the chance meeting of his first loves brother linking him to go further by contacting her. This change disappointed me, as I felt the ending was to ‘happily ever after’ in such a short space of time. As much as I enjoyed the book I feel it never delivered the dramatic ending the beginning suggested.
Espedair Street conveys a realistic story of a lost rock star with a passion to find happiness in his life. Banks achieves this realistic autobiographical approach in his writing by using first person narration portraying honesty in his emotions. Weirs character has a sense of being strangely funny and oddly realistic as his sympathetic flaws only add to this. Banks himself must have put himself through the journey of Daniel as I really got the sense of how it felt for him to be an international rock star which shows the authors enthusiasm for rock music with its distinctive flair. I also gained a lot from the constant intrigue through flash backs which helped with concluding what got him to that point. Weir himself was a complete character whose developmental journey ended up a strange love story wrapped inside a story of weir coming to grips with himself. The only fault to me was the sentimentality of the ending which remains its main weakness.
LUCY LITTLE 6B1