Explore the presentations of Keith's mother. How important is she to the novel Spies as a whole? - English Literature Essay Example
Throughout ‘Spies’ Mrs Hayward’s character changes as we move further into the main plot of the novel.
Frayn presents Mrs Hayward at the beginning of the novel, as very calm and composed though towards chapters 8 and 9 when something sinister in the novel emerges she starts to appear scared, panicky and desperate.
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Chapter 2 is the first time the readers are introduced to Mrs Hayward. The first image which the reader would probably think of her was a ‘snob’ or very formal.
“She didn’t speak to him personally, but she’d sometimes address him and Keith collectively, as ‘you two’ or ‘chaps’.”
This quotation shows Mrs Hayward is distant from the boys and she feels she is too superior to speak to Stephen personally. Mrs Hayward probably does not want to admit Stephen is at her house but she tolerates him as he occupies Keith. She uses the word ‘chaps’ to refer to Stephen and Keith instead of boys. This is referring to Stephen and Keith as young adults and the vocabulary is very middle class which again emphasises her superiority.
Mrs Hayward also appeared in control, rested and calm whenever Stephen visited in the early stages of the novel.
On page 15, “she spoke softly and smilingly, with a kind of calm amusement at the world…..”
This illustrates her calmness and with the use of repeating the’s’ sound as it is alliterative and creates a sense of smoothness. The effect on the audience of repeating ‘s’ creates images of a calm sea and this appeals to the readers senses therefore helps to create a more vivid image.
Mrs Hayward comes across superior compared to other people on the close,
“…and no excessive movement of her lips.”
This quotation implies a sense of coldness Mrs Hayward has towards certain people, such as Stephen. Using her ‘lips’ is key as a persons lips is usually where you express your different emotions through pouting or shouting etc. Though as Mrs Hayward does not move her lips much it shows she has no emotion. Therefore she shows no emotion to people she thinks are lower than her due to her superiority. It is as if she cannot be bothered to open her lips to those of social indifference. All these points relate to the fact that the reader would see Mrs Hayward as aloof, elegant and the epitemy of a middle class mother at that time.
Moving on from those earlier characteristics of Mrs Hayward, during the novel the reader starts to see a difference in her character as she starts acting rather unusual and suspicious. On page 27 Mrs Hayward acts very different.
“throwing the front door open and not walking but running down the street…”
Due to the fact that Mrs Hayward runs down the street is strange as she is normally very calm. It shows she must have been very worried about something. Also she does not open the front door she throws the front door open. The word ‘throwing’ symbolises her frustration and panic over what is happening and as you are exerting force when you throw it makes the situation appear much more dramatic for the reader.
In chapter 5 on page 93 the reader starts to find out the secrets of Mrs Hayward’s adventures off to the tunnel and when she meets with Stephen. This is when the reader sees a different side to Mrs Hayward which at first the reader would never have guessed.
“So you see I’m trusting you”.
Mrs Hayward is addressing Stephen directly and talking at his level, which is very unusual as she would normally only talk to him through Keith. Now Mrs Hayward is even trusting Stephen, this shows Mrs Hayward must be very desperate and all her superiority has gone as she wants to save herself being found out of her adventures by Mr Hayward.
Further on, on the same page as before the reader realises that Mrs Hayward is no longer perfect.
“After she’s gone I remember the back of her dress as she clambered awkwardly away from me along the passageway, its calm simplicity confused by the dust of the bare earth, its elegant regularity mocked by the random detritus of dead leaves and twigs hanging from it.”
The first section of this quotation with her clambering awkwardly shows she has left behind her perfect way of walking and clambering is something which children tend to do more than adults. The word ‘clambered’ is an awkward word to say and the effect of the awkwardness of the word reflects on the awkward movement which Mrs Hayward is doing.
Further down the quotation Stephen is describing Mrs Hayward’s dress. This is a metaphor of the elegant dress being mocked by dirt and leaves. This again shows she is not perfect anymore and she is certainly different to her old normal behaviour. Another quotation which shows Mrs Hayward is not perfect anymore,
“Her white dress badged with green slime”.
The contrast of the white coloured dress with the green slime is like the contrast of her old calm, clean behaviour in contrast with her unusual, suspicious behaviour.
Finally towards chapter 9 Mrs Hayward’s behaviour becomes very desperate.
“An air of regal haughtiness, even as she sat cross-legged in the dust in front of Stephen like a beggar”.
The words ‘regal haughtiness’ is juxtaposed with the word ‘beggar’ in this quotation to make the way she was sitting stand out even more. The image created of her cross-legged is like a child and very undignified in contrast to her old superior ways.
Mrs Hayward also seems desperate by the way Frayn wrote,
“Keith’s mother gives a terrible, shuddering sob. Then another and another.”
Mrs Hayward is obviously crying here which shows she is feeling very upset over the current situation. The way Frayn uses the words “another and another” is a short sentence which creates more impact as it is more dramatic and the way the words are repeated gives the idea that the problem is on going and may last for a while like her tears.
“Her head bent, her hands covering her face entirely, silently shaking”.
The description of Mrs Hayward here with her hands covering her face shows she feels scared and guilty about the situation which she is in. The words ‘silently shaking’ is alliteration and stands out much more, this effect makes it more dramatic for the reader too.
The way Mrs Hayward is portrayed throughout this chapter by Stephen, who uses emotive language or detailed descriptions etc makes the reader feel a sense of empathy towards Mrs Hayward.
The reader can certainly see how helpless Mrs Hayward now is and how she is far away from being in control of her family like she once was.
Mrs Hayward defiantly plays an important role in the story as her personal matters and adventures are one of the main plots of the story. I think Mrs Hayward is actually a lovely person. She appears to the reader at first rude and arrogant but that was the way the middle class parents acted in that period of time. Later the reader sees her other personality and how she copes with the situation. It is interesting how at first Mrs Hayward would never dream of lowering herself to talk to Stephen and later in the story she trusts him with a huge secret. I like the way Frayn describes Mrs Hayward when she is in a desperate state as it makes the reader feel a sense of different emotions towards the character while reading the novel.