Powerlessness And Vulnerability In Once In A House On Fire English Essay

866 words - 4 pages

Abigail Silvers
Write about the ways in which powerlessness and vulnerability are depicted on pages 81-83 and elsewhere in the novel, making reference to relevant contextual issues.
In the extract, Ashworth portrays Lorraine as vulnerable and helpless, and shows the effect of moving to Canada on Peter’s character, as he cuts off her only connection to home by ‘[tearing] he phone cord out of the wall, [so] the line to Gran hung dead in his hand, dripping bits of plaster.’ The metaphor ‘hung dead’ suggests that her final connection to home has been destroyed, which is her phone calls to her mother, which is conveyed by the use of the word ‘dead’. The metaphor ‘dripping bits of plaster’ portrays the image of dripping blood, again relating to the theme of a violent death. This could also be related to Peter’s violent nature, suggesting that the ‘death’ he caused was a violent one. This is supported by the fact that the line is described as ‘dead in his hand’. This indicates that the death is solely Peter’s responsibility. On the whole, this indicates the effect of moving to Canada on Peter’s behaviour, as he now feels he has complete control over Lorraine. By moving abroad, he ensured that Lorraine could no longer reach for her mother, or other family members. This renders her helpless, as police attitude towards domestic violence at the time of the novel was dismissive. Women would often call the police regarding domestic violence. However, when the police eventually arrived, the women would send them away, claiming nothing was wrong. The police would obey this and leave, so Lorraine would be left completely helpless, as she had no help in another country.
Ashworth also presents Peter as a vulnerable character in the extract, angered by his own actions. When attempting to abuse Lorraine, Peter ‘brought the teapot and its spout crashing into his own temple.’ Then, ‘Staring at [their] mother, he pulled back the teapot and smashed again, th[at] time cracking off the spout, howling.’ The verb ‘crashing’ implies that the action was quick, suggesting that Peter was acting on impulse. This means that upon first instincts, Peter’s rage is surprisingly directed at himself. The fact that he stared at Lorraine the second time he did this could convey that the reason he was angry at himself was due to the manner in which he had treated Lorraine. Ashworth then uses the word ‘howling’ to describe Peter’s reaction to the pain. Howling has connotations of the commonly told myth of a werewolf. Werewolves endure a painful...

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