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Review of “Mount Pleasant” By Mary-Louise Buxton

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    In this short story called “Mount Pleasant”, you see the world through a child’s eyes because the short story is written with a unique narrative technique and language. The reader’s mind is brought back to the time where ghosts and other wicked and impressive creatures filled the darkest corners of the thoughts from one’s young days. This curiously written short story is the product of Mary-Louise Buxton, written in 2005, and it is about Elizabeth and her imaginative everyday life. “Mount-Pleasant” is about a young girl, whose name is Elizabeth, and she narrates the reader through her daily life.

    The story is written with an explicit first-person narrator, and it seems like reading a diary. This way of narrating makes the story quite interesting, because the young girl in the short story makes the story odd, childish and rather amusing, and she does not do anything to alter from spoken language. Mary-Louise, the writer, creates her own names for objects and concepts and she plays with the childish language, as the following quotation illustrates: “Mammy gives the ceiling The Look” (Page2, line 46).

    Certain nicknames have been given to several nouns and verbs such as: “Granny ‘Omi’s Duckering Ball” – which is an ornamental glass of ball (Page 2, line 49) and “Babby” – which simply means a ‘baby’ just spelled with an extra ‘b’. Adding nicknames and playing with words is just what kids tend to do, and the writer creates a childish feeling throughout the short story. In typical short stories, the climax is a spectacular, marvellous and sometimes unexpected event, but in contrast to a typical short story, the climax in “Mount Pleasant” is just a normal child’s night-experiences.

    No one would find that especially disastrous besides the child itself. The narrator breaks free from the childish setting when she suddenly starts talking about how they used to get complemented by people in the area because her and sister was well-known by many people, how they used to get socks from nearby nuns and how they at the tub shop used to buy sweets that was written down on their special list of favourite candy. Right after she returns to the setting and time that she just escaped from.

    Changing subjects in this confusing way can also seem like childish behaviour. Throughout the story the writer scatter in some ‘ awakening’-lines such as “Mammy said not to get dirty” (page 1, line 18) or “We never want to go home”(Page 3, line 114). By using lines as these the writer ‘spices up’ the language and makes some breaks now and then during the short story. The narrating child in the short story has a hard time concentrating on one thing at a time, because the child is having a desire for being constantly entertained.

    This is illustrated a few times in text when she talks about how her mother behaves when the dad puts Elizabeth’s newly found picture of an unknown boy from the ceiling on the mantelpiece. The parents are two very important characters in the text, and they play a very important role. As the reader you get an impression of the way the mother is looked at by Elizabeth. Elizabeth sees the mother as a “Dangerous Foe” that she has to watch out for. It is not like she hates her mom, but she has to live under her mom’s very strict rules, and she is not pleased by that.

    Elizabeth talks about how she would like to go out to play and get dirty like her older brother does, but her mother always prevent her from doing it, because she want her daughter to grow up and become a proper and correct girl. The father is less strict with the children as the mother is, so he seems to be quite the opposite of the mother. He speaks more like children do, as the following quotation illustrates: “Bobby Dazzler” (Page 3, Line 81).

    You say that contrasts meet, and that must be the coincidence in this short story with the mother and the father, because you would not think that this would be a happy, loving couple who function well. Nevertless, the father may not seem to be as loving as first anticipated. One night he lifts Elizabeth and her sister to their bedroom, but their dog is in their way. He attempts to make a move by swiping a newspaper at it and male it run away in fear. He says “Move dog” (Page 4, line 133), and is seems like he and the rest of the family does not owe much respect and love for their animal.

    While proceeding though the story you as the reader keep expecting that something bad will happen to this family and especially to Elizabeth. You get relived when you realize that nothing happens to them and that you have feared in vain. But then the question is, if things is really fine and in order? Because in the end of the short story the mother picks up the photo of the man which Elizabeth had found earlier and she puts it back on top of the mantelpiece. Elizabeth believes that it must have dropped down during the night.

    However, as she says on page 5 line 164: “I run to the mantelpiece and put the picture in the grate”, because she had put it down herself before she went to bed. Here you have to notice that the father says “Maybe he lived here before we did? We’ll put him on the mantelpiece, shall we, with our photos. He can be one of the family”, when Elizabeth showed him the picture. After the father declares the man on the picture a member of the family, the picture is not on the mantelpiece. This could be the reason why there was all that fuss over the night. Elizabeth’s silhouette in the dark could be the ghost of the man on the picture.

    The writer, Mary-Louise, point out very clearly that there is something special about the last line, because putting the picture back on the mantelpiece is apparently a very important part of the story. This is just what I think and you can probably analyse and interpret this short story in many different ways. In short stories with children as narrator, everything is taken literally and you often see the world from a different perspective than grown-ups. In a short everything can happen; the events can be extremely surreal as well as it can be such a normal thing as a child’s behaviour at night.

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    Review of “Mount Pleasant” By Mary-Louise Buxton. (2016, Nov 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/mount-pleasant/

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