Timeline for Spies Essay

Submitted By 1991sammy
Words: 2918
Pages: 12

Timeline for Spies
Chapter 1 :
The first words of the book instantly set the time period, "the third week of June and there it is again". We are told that the "embarrassingly familiar breath of sweetness" comes from "one of the gardens", we also establish that it is a scent because it is described as "it reeks". The smell clearly provokes strong emotions for the narrator, as it makes gives them "a kind of homesickness for where I am", yet he wants to be "away, away". This creates suspense for the reader as we want to know what this smell is, and why it has emotional attachments for the narrator.

The narrator then reveals that the connection to this smell stems from his childhood, and the narrator intends to return to the place of his childhood and confront whatever emotion it is that stirs inside him "every summer in late June".

We are introduced to new characters, through the narrator's memory, Keith and his mother. As the reader, we learn that something awful must have happened to Keith's mother as he has a recollection of her "sitting in the dust in front of me, weeping".

It is clear that "those words spoken by my friend Keith that set everything off in the first place" are very important, yet we do not learn them until the end of Chapter 2. The importance of these 6 words is enforced when he says that "they changed everything". The narrator wants to think about these recollections and put them into an order, so decides to go back to London "for a few days".

Chapter 2:
The location has changed, and the narrator has now arrived in London. It is described as "everything is as it was... and everything has changed". Although it has been "nearly half a century" since Stephen was last here, he knows where he is going; "my feet carry me with a kind of effortless, dreamlike inevitability".

He reaches the Close, where effectively the whole book is staged, it has "the same old quiet, sweet, dull ordinariness." The reference to "those six simple words" occurs again midway through chapter 2, so in effect, this could be classed as the true beginning of the novel. Stephen even says himself "this is where the story began".

At the end of the chapter, Keith makes the revelation that the reader has been expecting since the beginning. This is that Keith's mother is a German spy.
Chapter 3:
Chapter 3 follows directly on from Chapter 2, "So, she's a German spy". Stephen then asks himself some rhetorical questions, "How do I react to the news? Do I offer any comment?", this is an example of him looking back upon his childhood self - from the adult perspective. This form of quick narrative shift is common throughout the entire novel, and generally it is used to create suspense and show Stephen's reflection upon his younger self.

Throughout the entirety of Chapter 3 there are a lot of comparisons between Stephen's life and Keith's life. In particular they emphasis Keith's personal superiority over Stephen. An example of this is "A father in the Secret Service and a mother who's a German spy - when the rest of us can't even muster one parent of interest!".

The boys also do a lot of spying on Keith's mother, as they expect her of being a spy. Which is very ironic, as they are spying on a "spy". The most ironic example of the spying is when they look through her diary and encounter a series of exclamation marks and x's; the boys presume that these are a series of codes about meetings with German spies. They are a code however not the type the boys had assumed. The exclamation marks symbolise when Mr and Mrs Hayward have had sex, and the x's symbolise the start of Mrs Haywards' periods - this is her method of contraception.

The two boys then go outside, after Mrs Hayward catches them in the living room (where they aren't to play), to their tunnel where they hide their things. Keith then influences his superiority over Stephen by holding out the boys pretend bayonet, and making Stephen swear to secrecy about their discoveries…