This passage is extracted from “Maiden Voyage” by Denton Welch.
This passage is telling an adventurous boy who travels around the world. He comes to a Chinese city and longs to explore it. Yet, he is tied down by the danger posed outside. The boy states that “I might have been in Sydenham for all I could see – a European villa and a line of poplars; yet outside lay a Chinese city which I was longing to explore.” This suggests that the boy is having a flash back of his hometown, Sydenham but he is really at a Chinese city where he has never seen before. Hence, this passage takes place at a Chinese city, perhaps China. The author presents this passage in the first person point of view.
It is proven from the usage of “I” throughout the whole passage.This passage clearly shows the theme of rebellious, freedom and adventurous. The protagonist is a very adventurous person that he travels around alone until he comes to a rural area. He is not afraid to explore the Chinese city alone though he is warned about the danger. “His heart sank” suggests that he is all-ready to visit the Chinese city, yet he has to stop because of his safety.
From this, the protagonist reflects on the theme of being adventurous. He feels very frustrated to be pulled back. He hits the balls fiercely till he is thoroughly exhausted. This continues when he sneaks out of the house despite the warnings given to him. These signify the freedom he longs for and the rebellion in him.At the very beginning, a dangerous tone is set. It is clearly presented when Mr.
Butler warned the protagonist to stay indoors as foreigners are not very popular here. It suggests that the protagonist has set foot at a rural area where people seldom visit. The protagonist is traveling alone that creates an insecure atmosphere.
From “his heart sank”, “I hated to be dependent on other people” and “I began to feel imprisoned” proposes that the protagonist is a very adventurous and independent person. He is also a smart person as he picks at the right moment to sneak out.Just then, the author changes the tone of the passage to quiet and still, in early-afternoon torpor. There are no other living things but only the protagonist. It creates a solitary and deserted atmosphere where winds and dust can be seen and heard. The author personifies the winds as they “squeaked and grated linguistically”.
The poet gives life to the winds as though they are talking. Even the sand and dust “rose up” like a human. Furthermore, the poet uses the visual imagery to describe the movements of the dust and sand as they rose up, “eddying and swirling” themselves. Again, harsh spears of grass “stuck up” through the sand shows that personification and visual imagery are used to create a vivid image of the area. It is proven that the protagonist is in a rural area as he is surrounded by sands, dusts and bushes.
These are commonly seen in outskirt areas. The soles of my shoes began to “burn” suggests the usage of hyperbola. The day is dry and hot till he feels the burning sensation in his shoes.As the protagonist walks on, he spots some movements. As the saying goes, “curiousity kills the cat”, the protagonist is lured into a trap. Following on, visual and auditory imageries are widely used to describe the movements and object on the floor. The poet uses “the nose and eyes had been eaten away”, “black hair was caked and grey with dust”, “gaping mouth” , “shrivelled lips” and “long coarse hairs” to create a vivid scene of the thing lying on the floor – a human head.Although the protagonist is shocked, his curiousity takes up most of his emotion which leads to the irony part, “because it was so terrible, my eyes had to return to it whether I looked away.
” It reflects on the ignorance and edgy of a young boy until the real fear strikes him hard, then he runs. Though he is an adventurous person, he is still an immature, inexperienced young boy. This can be seen where he expresses his frustration through “hitting the balls fiercely against the stable doors”. Closing to the end, the sentences are short and direct. It gives a tense rhythm to the passage. As the protagonist is in fear, he runs and searches for protection.
The sentences give a short rhythm like staccato that symbolizes the heart beat increases because of fear. “There was no gate”, “I began to feel desperate” and “I knew that I could not” proposes the out-of-breath and anxiety in the protagonist.In this passage, onomatopoeia is used throughout this passage to create a livelier tone for the passage. For instance, squeaked, buzzing, churning, barked and slap. It contributes to the visual and auditory imagery that the author is creating. Besides that, simile is also used in this passage.
For example, “the city walls stood up like cliff”, “buzzing like dynamos”, “odd white teeth stood up like ninepins in is dark” and “it was as dry and sharp as knives”. The words such as “like” and “as” are used as comparisons to draw the two objects in a relationship.In conclusion, the author uses the language devises greatly and wisely. He presents the theme of rebellion and freedom skillfully through the characteristics of the protagonist -full of curiousity, urge for freedom, and the rebellious thoughts. Imagery is greatly emphasized throughout the whole passage. It is not only used to present a vivid image but also to involve the readers emotionally and physically into the passage.
With the other poetic devices such as metaphor, simile, personification and onomatopoeia used, they set the tone and atmosphere. The protagonist reflects clearly on the teenagers on the real world. It starts off with an adventurous boy, longing to explore the world and enriching his world.It shows the inexperienced and unripe young boy. Then it continues with the journey alone at the isolated area. He is enjoying himself with the dreamlike stillness, or he thinks he is. However, he cannot withstand the dryness and heat.
It proves the characteristic of a young boy, little patience and endurance. Then, he is distracted by the black speck some way in front of him. Passion and curiousity portray in a young boy. It shows the ignorance and lack of consideration part of a young boy as the protagonist moves on to distinguish the black speck that somehow turns out to be a human head.
Fear strikes him but he doesn’t run away at the first look. Reality comes back and he realizes. The author uses the protagonist as a symbol for all teenagers in the real world.