“The Little Stranger” is a 2009 gothic novel written by Sarah Waters. It is a ghost story set in a dilapidated mansion in Warwickshire, England in the 1940s. This novel features a male narrator, a country doctor who makes friends with a family with faded fortunes left simply with a very old estate that is crumbling around them. The stress of reconciling the state of their finances with the familial responsibility of keeping the estate coincides with perplexing events which may or may not be of supernatural origin, culminating in tragedy.
Reviewers note that the themes in “The Little Stranger” are alternately reflections of evil and the social upheaval of the class system in postwar Britain. Waters stated that she did not set out to write a ghost story, but began her writing with an exploration of the rise of socialism in the United Kingdom and how the fading gentry dealt with losing their legacies. The setting of the extract under analysis is laid at the British countryside house. It is expressed by such spatial markers as window, curtain, door .
The temporal markers are both direct and indirect. The action takes place in the evening. The protagonist is a country doctor. He has been invited to a soiree at Hundreds Hall, one of the remaining gentrified estates. The lady of the house has invited a few other landed families, even though the house itself is falling into disrepair because the family cannot afford its upkeep. One of the families, the “new kids on the block,” so to speak, brought their daughter, Gillian, who is probably somewhere between 5 and 8.
The scene in question is a few hours into the gathering, during which everyone assembled has realized that this group of people are not particularly destined to become close friends. Only slightly later, Gyp does indeed lash out at Gillian, tearing her cheek badly. The doctor takes her downstairs to the kitchen (and hot water) and stitches her face up. The debacle ends with Gillian’s family insisting that Gyp be destroyed, which the doctor eventually does.
This short story belongs to the belle-letters functional style, the main aim of which is to give the reader aesthetic pleasure, to make him think and to entertain him by appealing to his emotions. The extract under analysis told from the point of view of the protagonist, entrusted narration. Description and narration are the main types of narrative used in the extract. Few dialogue lines are inserted in the end of the extract. The extract under analysis consists of two parts. The first one serves as an introduction, while the second one begins the narration of the story.
The analyzed extract is the climax of the whole story. In order to keep the reader’s attention the author resorts to the developed system of connectives. Such connectives as but, as, so, and, so as, indeed, as always, of course, after all can be observed in the extract under analysis and also add to the emotiveness of narration. Being centered on the emotions the passage is full of stylistic devices. The peculiar feature of the text is the wide usage epithets: gentlest, horrible, thin, low, liquid, poor, loose, shattering, trembling, desperate, rigid, vivid, ghastly, terrified..
These epithets are used to add to the figurativeness of the language and to enrich author’s speech. These epithets help to create the atmosphere of a horrible disaster that happened. In order to create an impression of inner speech of the protagonist, the author employs such stylistic device as detachment: one of those moments – there were to be several, in the months that followed; I called over to them something – something perfectly inconsequential like; they both had blood on their evening clothes – I think we all did.
The stylistic device of metaphor adds to the expressiveness of the narration: I’d barely exchanged a word with them all evening; Mr Baker-Hyde’s face fell; one of them catching his foot on a loose seam of carpet. For this purpose also serves such stylistic device as hyperbole: I would forever look back on this. At the beginning of the extract long, complex sentences are mostly used: Ever since her arrival she’d been keeping up a rather monotonous show of being frightened of Gyp, ducking ostentatiously behind her mother’s skirts whenever his friendly wanderings around the room took him near her.
But in the second part, when the tragedy happened, the author employs mainly short simple sentences to convey the shock and the state of the main characters: Gyp had bitten her. The poor child was white and rigid with shock. This technique creates an antithesis between the peaceful state at the beginning of the evening and between the atmosphere of a catastrophe later. In the analyzed extract the author’s speech prevails, but there are also few dialogue lines, which are presented mostly by short queues: Look at her! I’ll need water.
Also in the dialogue lines the author resorts to lexical repetitions: Christ! Christ! Look at the state of her! But she’ll have to be stitched. Stitched quite extensively, I’m afraid; and as sooner as possible. Stitched? All these devices are employed to convey a state of shock and the atmosphere of the tragedy. The peculiarity of the first two paragraphs is a wide usage of such stylistic devices, which author employed in order to create the tense atmosphere of a tragedy. The text under analysis is very emotive and causes the reader a sense of terror.