The article ‘Showing Off’ by the Scottish writer Janice Galloway describes how she overcame obstacles in her life to become a writer and shows that even if you are not blessed with the best oppurtunities in life and suffer from prejudice, it is still possible to achieve your goals. Through the clever use of language and technique, Galloway presents her writing in such a way that it has a great deal of inspirational impact on the reader. In order for a text to be inspiring, it must be written in such a way that the reader can connect with it emotionally.
In ‘Showing Off’, Galloway addresses social issues that many in people, in particular many women fell strongly about. Set in the 1960s, as references to music in the text suggest, women suffered a great deal from gender discrimination and had to set aside their creative and intellectual ambitions and settle for much more traditional roles as Galloway emphasizes – “I was a good teacher, the Head informed me one day, but not promotional material”. This gives the impression that women were considered inferior to men and were overlooked in society.
Galloway also – unusually – makes use of capitalization throughout the text which contributes towards creating an emotional connection between herself and the readers. She uses this to highlight occasions which have left a lasting impression on her, in particular, when she has been patronized or criticized, such as when she is told: “WOMEN CANNY WRITE… CAN YOU NOT BLOODY LEARN? “; and “GIRLS OFTEN GIVE UP, IT’S NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF”. She also capitalizes the names of texts, such as: “OOR WULLIE and THE BROONS”; and “the BEANO and BUNTY” which a reader may recognize from their own childhood.
The capitalization of these phrases draws attention to the prejudices that Galloway has overcome and the impact they have had on her life, therefore contributing toward the inspirational impact of the text. Possibly the most striking feature of the text – and something that makes it more accessible and enjoyable – is Galloway’s use of humour. Humour makes a text more accessible as the reader can enjoy it and engage with it; but in this case, Galloway’s humour also inspires the reader as it shows that she has not let the negative situations she has been in dishearten her or stop her thriving to achieve her goal.
She refers to specific personal memories throughout the text, such as: the judgemental way in which she was treated – “the librarian (Defender of books from the inquiry of Grubby people and Children) smacked my hands”; and the loss of her father – “he’d been dead for ages and not around much before that either”. Although these are negative aspects of Galloway’s childhood, she presents them in a jokey, light-hearted manner which, in effect, illustrates the strength and determination of Galloway’s character, characteristics which many people aspire to have.
An important aspect of the inspirational impact of the text is Galloway’s skillful use of anecdote. She discusses how women suffered a great deal from gender discrimination and adds weight to her argument by referring to the under-representation of female role models in her own educational experience – “In my 3 years at MA, I read less than two Scottish authors, and two women, all dead”. Galloway’s mother was not supportive of her creative and intellectual ambitions either as she found a novel written by her and “she lit fire with it”.
The writer’s mother was much more conventional and had accepted what society had told her but Galloway was rebellious and wanted to challenge this as she felt society wanted her to be a certain way because of her gender. The most significant turning point for Galloway was her realisation that she had a right to “know things” and that no-one was holding her back. This gave her the sense of freedom and the knowledge that she does not have to care what others think of her in order to achieve her goals, which is essential given the main purpose of the text.
This set of anecdotes very clearly highlights to the reader both the prejudices in the society Galloway grew up in and the respect Galloway deserved having overcome them. Galloway’s courage and determination are clearly inspirational, even though society has thankfully moved on from the culture she describes. A final feature in the text which is vital for creating an emotional connection with the audience is the style in which it is written as it conveys Galloways personality, which allows the reader to understand the meaning of the text and relate to it, making it easier to connect with.
The first element of style that Galloway uses to her advantage is formality; rather than writing it in a complex and serious manner, the writer presents the text in a light-hearted way making it more accessible and enjoyable. Aspects of the text which contribute towards are informality are the use of slang – “LURV”, “stunk like a month-old kipper”; use of short sentences – “This did not trouble me. I was a biddable child. Most are. “; and parenthesis – “(there were no men in our house)”.
These stylistic features all mirror the structure of natural, spoken language, therefore the reader feels as if Galloway is speaking directly to them. A second element of style used is the writer’s narrative stance which is very clear throughout the text and lends authority to Galloway’s point of view. “Books were bastards”, Galloway was rebellious and thought that “ATTITUDE” was an important personality trait to have and the narrative stance adds weight to the idea of rebellion and self-determination.
Galloway also uses dialect in her writing – phrases such as “When I was very wee” and “WOMEN CANNY WRITE” highlights her normal background and suggests that she was very proud of her heritage. Galloway’s use of dialect and her refusal to give up her accent not only contributes to the accessibility of the text but also serves to further Galloway’s main argument that you should not allow others to pressurize you into changing your life, personality or ambitions; she has retained her accent, despite being told it was “common and ignorant” by her own mother.
In conclusion, it is clear that Galloway uses technique very cleverly in this article. ‘Showing Off’ has a great deal of emotional and inspirational impact on the audience as it is honest, convincing and written in such a way that reader does not feel like they a being preached at. Galloway reminds us how important it is to stand up for what you believe in, that people should know their true worth and not let those who put you down to conquer you and to thrive to achieve their dreams even if society does not encourage them in the way it should.