The analysis of the text “The Lumber - Room” by H. Munro.
The text under analysis is written by an outstanding British novelist and a short – story writer Hector Munro. He was born in 1870 and died in 1916.Also he is better known for his pseudonym Saki. Owing to the death of his mother and his father’s absence abroad he was brought up during his childhood, with his elder brother and sister by a grandmother and two aunts. It seems probable that their stern and unsympathetic methods account for Munro’s strong dislike of anything that smacks of the conventional and the self-righteous. He satirized things that he hated. H. H. Munro is best known for his humorous and very interesting short stories. He often used black humour language in his stories. It is a form of humor that regards human suffering as absurd rather than pitiable, or that considers human existence as ironic and pointless but somehow comic. He used it in order to deride the human vices and to show inefficiency of actions of moralistic, hypocritical persons. Munro was killed on the French front during the First World War. His sister in her Biography of Saki writes: “One of Munro’s aunts, Augusta, was a woman of ungovernable temper, of fierce likes and dislikes, imperious, and moral coward, possessing no brains worth speaking of, and a primitive disposition.” Naturally the last person who should have been in charge of children. The character of the aunt in the Lumber – Room is Aunt Augusta to the life.
The text tells us a story about a small boy Nicholas, who was brought up by his tyrannical and ungoverned aunt Augusta. He was "in disgrace" as he had refused to eat his wholesome bread-and-milk that morning. When children were taken to Jagborough sands Nicholas made some attempts to get into the gooseberry garden. As a matter of fact, he had no intention of trying to get into the gooseberry garden, but it was extremely convenient for him that his aunt should believe that he had unsympathetic. Soon his aunt tried to look for the boy and slipped into the rain-water tank. She asked Nicholas to fetch a ladder but the boy pretended not to understand her, he said that she was the Evil One. After this accident they both kept silent and everyone has been shipped in their thoughts.
The theme of the text is about relationship between two generations: a little boy Nickolas and his aunt.
The whole story can be divided into 2 parts: the Child's world and the Adult' s world. The first part of the plot is the Adult’s world which is dull, unimaginative and misunderstanding. The Adult’s world is full of warped priorities. Adults become obsessed with insignificant trivialities, like the Aunt that is obsessed about punishing and nitpicking on the children. Her methods of bringing up are rather military and religious. She puts punishment and withholding of enjoyment as more important than getting to know and molding the lives of the children. She keeps all the beautiful and creative things of the house locked away in a lumber-room so as not to spoil them but in doing so, the purpose of the objects which is to beauty the house, is lost, leaving the house dull and colourless. The second part of the plot describes the Child’s world. It is full of fun and imagination. Nickolas is very imaginative. He imagines the whole story behind the tapestry while the aunt comes out with boring stories and ideas like about circus or going to the beach. She tries to convince Nickolas about fun of a trip to the beach but lacks the imagination to sound convincing.
As for the structural division of the text, we may single out:
The plot, in which we learn about little Nicholas, his cousins and his strict aunt. Nicholas got into his aunt’s disgrace. So his cousins were to be taken to Jagborough sands that afternoon and he was to stay at home. The Aunt was absolutely sure that the boy was determined to get into the gooseberry garden because she has told him he is not to.
The gradation, when Nicholas got into an unknown land of lumber-room. Forbidden fruit is sweet and truly the lumber-room is described as a storehouse of unimagined treasure. Every single item brings life and imagination to Nicholas and is symbolic of what the adult of real world lacks. He often pictured to himself what the lumber-room was like, since that was the region that was so carefully sealed from youthful eyes. The tapestry brings to life imagination and fantasy within Nicholas, the interesting pots and candlesticks bring an aesthetic quality, visual beauty which stirs up his creative mind; and lastly a large square book full of coloured pictures of birds. And such birds! They allow Nicholas to learn in a fun and exciting way.
The climax of the text. While the boy was admiring the colouring of a mandarin duck, the voice of his aunt came from the gooseberry garden. She got slipped into the rain-water tank and couldn’t go out. She demanded from the boy to bring her a ladder, but he said her voice didn’t sound like his aunt’s. You may be the Evil One tempting me to be disobedient. Justice must be done. The Aunt tasted the fruit of her own punishment on the children. She is accused of falling from grace, of lying to Nicholas about jam and thus termed the Evil One. She feels what it is like to be condemned.
The denouncement. The Aunt is furious and enforces in the house. She maintained the frozen muteness of one who has suffered undignified and unmerited detention in a rain-water tank for thirty-five minutes. Nicholas was also silent, in the absorption of an enchanting picture of a hunter and a stag.
The narration is ordered chronologically, each episode is given with more and more emphasis. The story is narrated in the 3rd person. The text’s tonality is rather ridiculous and skeptical which creates comic, satiric and ironical mood narration is ordered chronologically, each episode is given with more and more emphasis. The story is narrated in the 3rd person. The narrative is revealed exclusively through the eyes of Nicholas. This allows the reader to access the situation and the characters in an objective manner so the characters are complex, having both positive and negative viewpoints.
The vocabulary is employed by the author in keeping with the subject-matter. So he frequent uses a) military terms, b) religious words.
The author used to a lot of stylistic devices in order to show inner world of main characters.
In the story the Aunt is represented as self-righteous and strict person. She always is right. This can be proved by the epithets used by the author: frivolous ground, considerable obstinacy, unauthorized intrusion.
The aunt was a religious person, as she thought about herself, but really she was not. A religious person loves people around her, understands that only love, trust and kindness can help the upbringing but the aunt took from religion only what she wanted: sins, strictness. To show this the author unfolds the specifying words characterizing Aunt’s speech: religious words (disgrace, sin, disgraceful, depravity, to fall from grace); and her actions and attitude towards children: military words (skilled, to shift from favorable ground, expedition, trivial gardening operations, germinated, self-imposed, sorties, wriggle).
To prove that the aunt thinks of herself as a wiser and that she doesn’t like to be in a wrong the author uses her own words in represented speech: “there could not be a frog in his bread-and-milk and that he was not to talk nonsense”.
Being cold, drily, lacking of love she is more concerned with punishing the children: she keeps jam and goodies away from them; she bars children from the beautiful places in the house like the garden and lumber-room. Unable to understand and communicate with children she is not even aware of the tightness of her son’s boots. She dictates their lives for them, insisting on where they should go for entertainment.
The author has a critical and very often ironic attitude to aunt underlining her narrow-mindedness with the help of oxymoron “a woman of few ideas” and metaphor “had leapt to the conclusion”; her unimaginativeness using zeugma “a circus of unrivalled merit and uncounted elephants”. The author calls the gooseberry garden “forbidden paradise” unfolding a biblical allusion strengthening ironic effect.
In the story Nickolas is presented as a very imaginative, curious and vivacious child. It can be proved by the usage of a great variety of colorful epithets: wonderful things, a living breathing story, instant attention, undreamed-of creatures. Everything in the world was new and interesting for him. The author shows it with the help of metaphors: “mysteries of the lumber-room”, “an unknown land”, “ a whole portrait gallery of undreamed – of creatures”.
Sometimes Nicholas’ innocent feelings of delight appear in the text through the represented speech: “And such birds!”
However it is reasonable to mention that Nickolas possesses not only positive traits of character. Sometimes we can see sarcasm in his words which is represented through the black humour: “How did she howl” – said Nickolas cheerfully (he said about his cousin - sister); “There was an unusual sense of luxury in being able to talk to an aunt as though one was talking to the Evil One” (about his aunt); and bathos “as she was scrambling”. Nickolas makes fun of hunter’s skills in archery, the author shows it with irony “all one knew about his skill in shooting was that he could hit a large stag at a ridiculously short range”. Nickolas is quite cruel to animals. We can notice it when he imagines the scene “when the huntsmen would escape while the wolves feasted on the stricken stag”. The author uses the specifying word here to underline the fact that Nickolas had no sympathy at that moment.
He is quite reasonable and sly child. When he leaves the lumber-room the author unfolds the succession of actions. The author enumerates his actions one by one. It seems that Nickolas had thought over them before in order his aunt did not notice his presence in this place. What is more important Nickolas doesn’t want to get into the gooseberry garden but wants to make his aunt believe he wants to. The author uses paradox “As a matter of fact he had no intention of trying to get into the gooseberry garden, but it was extremely convenient for him that his aunt should believe that he had”.
He is stubborn and mischievous but in spite of all these characteristics the author is in favour of Nickolas with his imaginativeness, directness and innocence. They can be seen in zeugma the author unfolds: “he felt perfectly capable of being in disgrace and in a gooseberry garden at the same moment”.
As this story is about middle – class people it is written in the literary style. The bookish words are prevailing: wholesome, frivolous ground, possibly, nonsense, nevertheless, veriest nonsense, the coloration and marking, the alleged frog, the dramatic part, the incident, the whole affair, the mind, the utmost assurance, the insistence, unwarranted stretch of imagination. However the Aunt tried to bring up children in strict, military and religious way so there are specifying words in the text. They are military words: skilled, to shift from favorable ground, expedition, trivial gardening operations, germinated, self-imposed, sorties, wriggle; and religious words: disgrace, sin, disgraceful, depravity, to fall from grace.
On the example of the story the author attaches our attention to different worlds of children and adults. The Child’s World is wonderful, imaginative, it is full of fantasies and dreams. It is a wonderful period in people’s life and adults should respect children and treat them in a proper way.
In conclusion I’d like to say that the author’s style is remarkable for its powerful sweep, brilliant illustrations and deep psychological analysis. The story reveals the author’s great knowledge of man’s inner world. The text deals with the problems of upbringing and we can see that the author’s attitude to adults is a little bit cynical. His ironical cynicism combined with a keen wit and power observation affords him effective means of portraying reality without shrinking before its seamy side. It’s quite obvious that when describing the hard-heartedness and indifference of Adult world he is not indignant but rather amused. The charm of this story lies in its interesting plot and exciting situation. At the same time it conveys deep thought, keen observation and sharpness of characterization.