Stan Barstow was born in 1928 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. His father was a coal miner, and he was the only son. He attended Ossett Grammar School, and left at sixteen to join a local engineering firm, working in the drawing office. Seven years later, he moved to a similar position in another firm, and from there moved into the sales department. He started writing in the fifties, and had some short stories broadcast by the BBC. His first published work (as Stanley Barstow) was the short story The Search for Tommy Flynn in number 8 of the Putnam series of books Pick of Today’s Short Stories in 1957. This story was reprinted in The Desperadoes in 1962. ) An unpublished novel in 1956 was followed by A Kind of Loving in 1960. This was a major success, and was made into a film starring Alan Bates and June Ritchie. Since then he has been a full time writer, and has written eleven novels and three books of short stories. He has also written TV scripts and for the radio and theatre. His books have been translated into several languages, and are widely read in schools. He is an honorary Master of Arts of the Open University. He was married for thirty-nine years, and has two children.
He has lived for most of his life in his native Yorkshire, but has recently moved to South Wales. His latest book is his autobiography, In My Own Good Time, which was published in October 2001. The text under study presents a piece of narration and character drawing. It was written by Stan Barstow in 1957. The time setting is the 2nd half of 20th century ( time after the 2nd world war, Christmas Eve ) and as for the place setting it wasn’t mentioned directly but I suppose it is some small city located on the bank of a river.
Speaking about the very story I would point out firstly that it is the 3rd person narration, so it means that the author is not a participant in the story and has full view of the events, he describes everything including the characters and the events of this story from an objective position . The second thing that is worth mentioning here is the general tone of the story. Strictly speaking it is calm to my mind, perhaps slightly sad and doesn’t change throughout the narration ( due to a number of epithets and the author’s attitude to the main character ).
The story deals with the problem of human behavior, psychology and social relations. It has a number of dialogues which in order help us to get to know more about the characters, I mean their social position, background and education. The character of the story is Cristie Wilcox. There are as well as direct and indirect descriptions of the main character in the text. I quess it is reasonable to divide the story into 4 logically connected parts : the introduction ( Christie ), the searching, the accident, the end of searching. In the 1st part the author introduces us the main character.
We get to know some facts about him and his obsession through direct and indirect descriptions and his background. He was at war, lived with his widowed mother and worked at a factory. “His mates at the factory said Christie was only elevenpence-ha’ penny in the shilling” , “ but like the management they tolerated him, because he was able-bodied and harmless and for most of the time as near normal as hardly mattered. “ For most of the time – except on the occasions, when this blinding urge came over him, this answerable obsession to find Tommy Flynn, the pal he had not seen since the night their ship was blown from under them. During this part the author uses for example the following epithets: “helpless stupefied loneliness on his face”, which set the mood and reveal the character’s emotional condition. He also stresses the word THEY to show in order the indifference of other people, somehow to make us understand, feel the main character’s condition, I think with the help of such a dividing or something of the sort the author wants us to see the character’s world where there is he and They, who don’t want to help him, where he finds himself alone.
They were against him. In the second part also includes a number of descriptions of the main character. “…cheek-bones and dark burning eyes…” Mostly this part describes the searching for Tommy Flynn. Christie walks around the town in searching, mostly in pubs. With the help of the dialogues we can make a conclusion that he is not very talkative and slightly absent minded, he is constantly focused on the searching of the friend of his. From the next part we get to know about the evening accident on the bank of the river.
This part includes mostly the description of the events rather than the emotional condition of the characters. He meets a woman who tells him that she can help him to find Tommy Flynn. As Christie was in no condition to understand her real motive it was rather easy for her to disappoint his hopes. And again with the help of the dialogue we are able to say that she has low social status and bad education as well as manners. “ C’mon then”, “…everythin’…”. There is also the direct description: “.. middle-aged with grying hair, a thin, heavily powdered face…”. She leads him to the river where she steels his money. Christie notices something in the river, takes it as his friend and tries to save him. It the ending we find Christie at home telling his mother that he had found Tommy in the river but couldn’t help him. It turned out that he had lost all their money. He was completely upset. He was in no condition to explain anything. His mother let Them to take him away.