Sredni Vashtar

In our literature class, Dani told us to work in groups and to analyse one specific paragraph of “Sredni Vashtar”.  I worked with Juana Zufriategui, Luz Esteban and Francisco Aresi and we analysed  the paragraph 15 of it.

Sredni Vashtar- paragraph 15 analysis.

“ And then of a sudden he stopped his chanting and drew closer to the window-pane. The door of the shed still stood ajar as it had been left, and the minutes were slipping by. They were long minutes, but they slipped by nevertheless. He watched the starlings running and flying in little parties across the lawn; he counted them over and over again, with one eye always on that swinging door. A sour-faced maid came in to lay the table for tea, and still Conradin stood and waited and watched. Hope had crept by inches into his heart, and now a look of triumph began to blaze in his eyes that had only known the wistful patience of defeat. Under his breath, with a furtive exultation, he began once again the paean of victory and devastation. And presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low, yellow-and-brown beast, with eyes a-blink at the waning daylight, and dark wet stains around the fur of jaws and throat. Conradin dropped on his knees. The great polecat-ferret made its way down
to a small brook at the foot of the garden, drank for a moment,
then crossed a little plank bridge and was lost to sight in the bushes. Such was the passing of Sredni Vashtar.
“Tea is ready,” said the sour-faced maid; “where is the mistress?”
“She went down to the shed some time ago,” said Conradin.
And while the maid went to summon her mistress to tea, Conradin fished a toasting-fork out of the sideboard drawer and proceeded to toast himself a piece of bread. And during the toasting of it and the buttering of it with much butter and the slow enjoyment of eating it, Conradin listened to the noises and silences which fell in quick spasms beyond the dining-room door. The loud foolish screaming of the maid, the answering chorus of wondering ejaculations from the kitchen region, the scuttering footsteps and hurried embassies for outside help, and then, after a lull, the scared sobbings and the shuffling tread of those who bore a heavy burden into the house.
“Whoever will break it to the poor child? I couldn’t for the life of me!” exclaimed a shrill voice. And while they debated the matter among themselves, Conradin made himself another piece of toast”.
In paragraph 15, there is something sinister and frightening at the point Conradin enjoys a piece of toast while Mrs. De Ropp lies death. This shows his lack of interest towards the situation because he is pleased when all around him is panic and fear. Therefore, in this paragraph the author uses devices such as symbolism to represent through the toast Conradin’s unattainable object of desire. In addition to this, it shows freedom because before, the authority restricted him everything that he possibly wanted. However, now without the guardian’s presence he was the lord of the house, which means he could indulge himself by eating the toast without any restrictions and with satisfaction . “ And while they debated the matter among themselves, Conradin made himself another piece of toast.” In this quotation, Conradin was smiling and keeping distant from all those emotions people were having, so it is clear that the toast represents hypocrisy, as well. This is because it is an entrance to the hypocritical british society at the moment he acts calmly as if nothing was going on by eating a toast, while in the house it was happening something bloomy. Furthermore, towards the ending there is a role reversal due to the fact that now Conradin has the control, rather than the guardian. In fact, he eats another piece of toast without anyone telling him it was prohibited.

Literary devices used in the paragraph

We can highlight three important symbols used in this paragraph. Firstly, the toast represents Conradin’s freedom and celebration. Moreover,we can identify another symbol such as the shed, which symbolizes a cathedral of Conradin’s faith and a safe place where he goes for worship. Here he was the authority and has the power, rather than Mrs. De Ropp. Finally, the Ferret, the deity, known as Sredni Vashtar, is a symbol of Conradin’s Anger towards his cousin

In this extract, imagination is present because the protagonist fantasies with his cousin’s death until he makes up in his mind a scene in which Mrs. De Ropp is murdered by his pet. Meanwhile he was enjoying the situation, eating calmly a couple of toasts. In addition to this, imagination is relevant for Conradin, because without it he would be dead. In fact, his mind is what keeps him alive. Finally, his actions were influenced by his imagination, which made him act or think in such a way. This way was based on having the idea of killing his cousin and even worst, praying to the ferret to do so.
Point of view:

This extract of the story is written in third person narrator limited, because it is focalized in Conradin´s mind. We understand this due to the fact we are not certain about his cousin’s death or her being murdered by the ferret as it was all part of his imagination. Therefore, we are not sure if the story was a fantasy or if it was real, which causes such an intriguing ending that leaves the readers with a huge doubt about it.

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