Feelings and emotions are things everyone can relate to and therefore they are also concepts that need to be explored vividly and vastly in pieces of writing. Due to this, writer’s craft is extremely important in decoding the methods in which feelings and emotions are explored and can also vary greatly story to story.
This essay will, therefore, be comparing the way 2 writers; Graham Swift (Chemistry) and Michelle Roberts (Your Shoes) manage to explore the feelings and emotions characters in their story experience and, in doing so, also picking up on their individual techniques.
From their respective titles you can perhaps already form valid conclusions to the preference of the pair. ‘Chemistry’ is a scientific word and science lacks any form of feeling so maybe the point Swift is trying to make from the outset is that the feelings portrayed in the story are quite clinical and one dimensional. However, ‘Your Shoes’ already involves the reader and seems to pursue them on 2 different levels. One the one hand, it suggests a variation in relationships and viewing things from another’s perspective. This suggests that the person in this story feel strongly about the topic to such an extent they are even leaving their own way of thinking. Another interpretation is that the ‘Shoes’ are a metaphor for the missing girl. This would show the extreme emotion held for the girl in that the mother is literally holding onto her memory by personifying something as literal as a pair of shoes. Either way the title ‘Your Shoes’ holds extreme significance to Roberts manner of exploring feelings in that she does it very vividly.
Swift often concentrates on a physical space between key characters. ‘For some reason it was always grandfather, not I, who went to the far side.’ He does this to create a physical picture of the loneliness both of these characters are feeling, as separating them visually in the story can elaborate on the sense of aloneness they are both experiencing. Michelle Roberts, on the other hand, describes audibly the raw emotion of loss; ‘I love you oh yes I love you so much.’ Unlike Graham Swift, she has opted to give the audience an insight straight into the mind of the character. There is no need for visual images of distance-it is clear in the mother’s heartbroken words how she is feeling.
‘The launch wallowed, sank.’ The destruction of the boat in the pond could be interpreted as a hidden metaphor of the sense of destruction the boy is experiencing in ‘Chemistry’. An event as literal as the sinking of a boat could easily be connected to a sense of despair, and it is this subtle way of exploring the little boy’s feelings that makes it all the more striking. Perhaps this hidden metaphor for the boy’s emotions suggests that maybe the boy (for he is so young) does not even realise how he is feeling and the emotion is occurring subconsciously, in the same way that the metaphor is not obvious either.
Meanwhile, throughout ‘Your Shoes’, the setting is a house. A home is somewhere you should feel most comfortable in, yet the woman in this story is experiencing the worst event of her life. The way she chooses to hide away in her home shows a sense of desperation-as if she is, in a way, clutching at straws. Roberts cleverly showcases this feeling of desperation in her main character just by the choice of setting, and this really forces the audience to relate to the woman, as a house is our sense of security so it shocks us how she has had to recoil in her home, just to hold onto the last few shreds of sanity she still possess. Desperation at its highest.
Like, Michelle Roberts, the striking clarity of certain statements Swift makes also hints at a sense of desperation but in a completely contrasting fashion to that in ‘Your Shoes.’ ‘The situation was resolved in a dreadful way: by my own father’s death.’ For the boy to think a situation could be only resolved by a death clearly shows the desperation he must be experiencing-as the event must have been viewed by him as so horrid, it tool the end of a life-and his father’s no less- for him to feel better.
Roberts seems to use sentence structure to show the transition of her feelings. ‘But they’ve got a lot to learn. Kids these days. Well.’ The gradual subtraction of the words seems to portray her emptiness-and how it is getting worse and worse.
Considering emotions and feelings are such common things, it was almost astounding to realise the wide variety of methods Graham Swift and Michelle Roberts used-just to portray what is essentially (underneath all of the more obvious and raw emotions i.e. anger, depression) one emotion-confusion. Confusion occurs in the one thought we all ask ourselves when things go wrong- ‘Why has it happened to me?’ What is more astounding than the variety of ways the authors showed the feelings and emotions, is the simple way they both explored the most crucial one.
The confusion experienced by all characters in both stories, is showcased in the very structure of the text itself. You see, neither author wrote the prose in chronological order-each opting for inserting flashback instead. This shows that in the very character’s minds they can’t even think straight. Never mind the sadness, guilt and loneliness-the feeling of confusion was so bad, they couldn’t even write down what they were actually feeling in an orderly fashion. So while they may have differed in the exploration of anger, and all other more raw emotions, they explored the most crucial one in the same way-on the very paper the stories are written on.