Fran’s war book review

This harrowing novel has been written to show the effects of reality, left with the legacy of shock and disbelief. Sally Trench wrote this mind-blowing book basing it on her own experiences of the anguish she saw children facing in their everyday lives, focusing merely on a war time situation. She specifically highlights on the torture and struggle these malnourished children abide. Although her book doesn’t say “we need your help”, you can tell that she is trying to promote aid and make the audience aware of how tough life is for those kids.

She aims to target an older teenage audience, purely by the explicit language used and the fact that the main character is a child. I feel the importance of this is due to the detailed emotional relationship the reader, being fairly young themselves can gain with the character. Also the way in which it has a simple structure helps to see its main target audience. There are both semantic and phonologic linguistic patterns used in the text I am studying. Sally Trench establishes personification in her text, to convey a sense of war, the conflict between two opposing sources that strive to be the best, and will do this at any cost. The whole involvement within this book is through common values and what people believe is right, and Sally Trench tackles differing opinions to make this novel satisfactory and appealing to all those with strong attitudes on this topic.

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The fact this book is written not by her own judgements but by the bare seeing truth many people wish to hear what war really is like and what victims have to face rather than relying on rumours. This passage opens a whole new perspective towards war, the extreme graphical vocabulary leaves you feeling moved. I quote ‘It causes anger grief and terror. It’s venom of bitterness bites into the very soul of man, to create this chaos and turmoil that you’re feeling now. It has drowned all the sunlight of love and good but I promise it won’t last forever.’ To explain and interpret this engaging passage I have studied the connotations and as a result, felt that this plays a very important part in the story. The abstract nouns ‘anger’, ‘grief’ and ‘terror’ have not been included just to show emotions, but these are all feelings most people have encountered. It therefore involves the reader by bringing them close to home, again, this relationship between Fran and the reader is being attained. ‘It’s venom of bitterness bites into the very soul of man’, this clause is designed to convey the meaning of war as though it is an animal that just doesn’t kill but tares lives apart and captures and disorientates the soul.

‘Venom’, is a concrete noun which gives the connotations of snakes, poison and pain, explaining to us as an audience that war is deadly. This contributes to the meaning of the text by frightening the audience. The abstract noun ‘bitterness’ portrays the feelings of cold and sour, telling us that war is more or less an un-pleasant experience that many resent. Within the text this abstract noun along with the other words mentioned is designed to keep the audience hooked and feel sympathetic. ‘Bites’ is a dynamic verb, in sense many would see it as a physical action, but in this case it means to take hold of, to overpower and manage. The abstract noun ‘soul’ creates connotations of pure and innocence, contrasting this abstract noun to the other parts of the clause. The phrase ‘drowned all the sunlight’, not only means life for those in war is sinister but it shows that all hope has disappeared and it creates the sense that nothing is ever going to be the same.

Alliteration is also used to employ sound affects within the text and it is used to link details to noun phrases. Sally Trench uses ‘sinking sensation’ and ‘flickering frantically’ which are both verb phrases. These phrases that use the repetition of initial sounds in neighbouring words are giving me the impression that Sally Trench is trying somehow to relate them to the age of the boy. Alliteration is commonly used in nursery rhymes and I think she wants you to glimpse deep inside the text, this is why such words like, ‘mamma’ are used frequently throughout the text to make you aware of his vulnerability. She requests that you perceive the boy is still in adolescence and due to the affliction he is facing he doesn’t have the gratitude we have for education or understanding. Due to his lack of experiences Fran is constructing his world through what he sees, which is scarcely nothing pleasing. Therefore, Sally is again building on that poignant relationship the reader has with the main character. She’s just trying to evaluate a sense of pity, with the use of alliteration this is a good way to cause that special effect.

Sally Trench also uses a metaphor comparing war to hell. She writes, ‘The cacophony of screaming and wailing from suffering mothers and children was surely the deep pit of hell the priest had once told me about. The pit where the devil is trapped with all the lost souls.’ Many people have heard tales about hell and can therefore relate the torture hell brings to the suffering these children encounter in war. I have explored this passage to break down its meaning and emphasis is drawn to the present participles used, ‘cacophony’, ‘screaming’, ‘wailing’, and ‘suffering’. This explains to the reader that it is happening now, and it’s extrusive not confined. Sally Trench has used this in an interesting way; to tug at the heart strings of the audience this is how it makes them more involved within the storyline. Again, later in the text she uses the present participles ‘watching, listening and waiting’, to form this same mood as noticed above the conjunction ‘and’ is used to contribute to the fact that war is tedious and boring.

As I would have expected there are many collocations found in this book, due to the context. The collocations express war in a negative way using both adjectives and verbs such as, ‘Suffering, anguish, torn apart, surrender and terror’. These affect the communication of meaning throughout the text by making it simpler for the reader to comprehend; they act as headings to underline the brutal lives of the children. To explore these words in more dept in means of the connotations they provide; suffering indicates a change is undergoing and it arises issues of disturbed breathing and malnourished people, which is obviously the visual aspect she wants you to see. Anguish doesn’t give a picture but more of a sound, it makes you think of the pain war causes and shouts and screams of the innocent victims. Surrender is that act of giving in from being torn apart for so long, when all the hope has died. Terror is something which causes great fear, all of these are emotions which can’t be dealt with, and that are all down to one thing, war!

Simple sentence structure is mainly used when asking rhetorical questions -‘Was mamma alive? Where was this hatred coming from?’ Using simple sentences of altering lengths is subsequent because it creates a disorderly style contrasting against the rest of the text for maximum impact. Some declarative sentences are used showing bare facts and statements. For example, ‘times have changed, Fran.’ ‘She’s ok’. Also a few imperative sentences are used guiding commands, such as ‘come here, Fran’. ‘Look, Fran, down there’. Both of these types of sentences are used to make the reader think, they are short but get right to the point. Studying these sentences more in term of context, they are sharp and attentive because you can never be sure of what is going to happen so when something is said it needs to be made bluntly.

Where as a complex sentence, which she uses rarely, ‘why should I surrender to this unbearable ugliness that had descended upon us, suffocating the sweetness of the past?’ requires the reader to explore the sentence in more detail to understand its true implication. This sentence is all about giving in to war; ugliness is used in the sense that war is evil and cruel and that it has taken control over all that was once superior but Fran won’t give in. this sentence causes great impact by taking such simple words and re-phrased them to create a more dramatic affect and make the audiences more pitiful.

To concentrate on the lexical field to the text, Sally Trench makes it fairly formal as it is quite a personal book. She wrote this after supplying war affected areas with food and medicine, so from first-hand experience this is the story of the suffering children she met.

Punctuation seems to play a major part in creating impact within Sally Trench’s novel. She uses colons to break up the text and cause that sense of ambiguity with a dramatic effect. She is separating two clauses and preparing the reader for the protracted monologue after. For example ‘Each question harboured another; was mamma alive?’ Throughout her whole book she uses the act of punctuation to affect the meaning the text gives. It’s that whole sense of making the reader feel involved in the story. Another encouraging influence towards getting the audience captivated and implicated is the fact she uses rhetorical questions.

One word created an extreme emphasis, drawing a lot of attention towards it; the abstract now ‘silence’. Not only itself does it create such significance but the way in which Sally Trench forces the punctuation upon it also adds to the effect. She makes it a one word sentence constructing immense impact on this abstract noun. I think she wants the reader to feel that edge of uncertainty, to try and put them in the place of those suffering children and experience a brief period of tension. This abstract noun is not only used in grammatical terms but for semantic too, opening this oasis of calmness to the observer. Silence is rarely encountered within a text of war context, that’s why so much centred upon it. Words such as ‘crashing’ and ‘pain’ aren’t unusual to discover hence why ‘silence’ builds such power and meaning.

I observed a line which read ‘she tried to control her emotions’; you could treat this as an ordinary line which is simply trying to push the story along. However, I studied it in more depth and realised it was purely relating to the lack of control (over anything) people have in war situations. Her emotions were barely in her own fate. Another sense of the loss of control comes in the line ‘thrown into the backs of trucks like bales of straw’. This sentence not only indicates the loss of power but also uses a simile.

Sally Trench has used a wide range of linguistic terms, causing emphasis upon her story and effectively persuading the reader to become involved in several ways: the reader should want to read more of her novels and ought be concerned for the real-life situations occurring around the world as well as wanting to become more implicated in helping the afflicted people.

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