This passage from Maiden Voyage by Denton Welch is an account of an adventurous European boy in China who wishes to explore the different cultures and experience the extraordinary. Yet he is overwhelmed by the barbarity of the new culture and this reveals to the reader the unexpectedness of life from the boys perspective. Through the first person narrative and detailed descriptions of the events, various themes such as teenage rebelliousness, gap between different cultures and our limited knowledge is highlighted through different literary features such as contrast, colour imagery and metaphor.
From the very beginning, the juxtaposition between the inside and the outside of the European villa accentuates the differences between two cultures. Inside the villa, where the foreigners live, seems to be more secure and settled as reflected by the reference to the stable doors. The boys observation of the signs of cultivation also hints the civilised European culture inside the walls. This perhaps links to Mr Butlers comment that foreigners are not very popular and people outside and foreigners have separate communities. The main character using moth eaten balls and the old tennis racket shows that young people like himself used to stay at the villa, but not for long periods of time it is where people dont appreciate the thoughts of the young. As the plot develops, the change in the setting is emphasized by imagery. Words such as a black speck and a dark boulder are colour imageries used to foreshadow the unfavourable and unexpected event. Outside of the European villa, the human head that the boy has found implies that the culture outside is in a way, barbaric. This is supported by cruel images such as odd white teeth stood up like ninepins in its dark, gaping mouth, its cheeks and shrivelled lips were plastered black with dried blood. These images not only highlight the unfortunate and unexpected events, but also give emphasis on difference between the two cultures. The boys fear and realisation of the hostility between cultures are conveyed from the head is described through imagery. Tall rank grass grew was dry and sharp as knives. Also the second mention of the insects reminds the boy of the head, causing the boy to feel more fearful.
Through the main character, the author explores various themes of maturity and our awareness of different cultures. Readers are able to observe that the main character seems to be a boy, from him playing tennis. It is shown that he is an adventurous person as he is [longing to explore]. He [hates] to be dependent on other people and says they would never want to do what I want to do- highlighting the theme of teenage rebelliousness and his desire to be independent. His unhappiness and dissatisfaction with his quiet lifestyle is suggested when [He hits] the balls fiercely against the stable doors. The boy feels imprisoned in a European villa and a line of poplars; the orderly line of poplar implies the structured and formal environment of the villa. For the boy, even the straight line of poplars is a sign of restriction and [imprisonment]. . As an act of rebellion, he does not want to listen to the elders, but carries out what he believes to be right, without rational thinking about the consequences. .
From the action of the main character, the author highlights the themes of teenage rebelliousness, difference between two cultures and acceptance of a different culture. In the line, [he] let [himself] quickly out of the back gate, the back gate has an implication that it was done in secret. This once again reinforces the theme of teenage rebelliousness as this action was disapproved by Mr Butler and Mr Roote the adults. Despite his rebellious nature, however, his immaturity and lack of knowledge are evident in his initial response to finding the head. The rather naïve observation of the head, I saw that the object was not black but pink shows that he was not able to identify what he was...
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