One Stair Up by Campbell Nairne sample essay
The book “One stair up” was written by a Scottish novelist Campbell Nairne in 1934 and describes the life of a working-class family from Edinburgh. The great advantage of this novel is that it shows the life with great realism, fine style and good sense of humour.
It the short fragment of this novel the scene takes place in one of the Broadway cinemas. Two young people – Andrew and Rosa – decided to watch some movie. Andrew supposed some comedy, not a big film, but very fun, in his opinion. It was some kind of sitcom, and all the fun was when somebody appeared in any foolish situation, for example, had an egg broken on his head or was all covered with custards. Andrew really enjoyed this comedy, but Rosa was very unsatisfied. In order not to hurt Andrew she just said that she had another sense of humour.
The composition of the story can be divided in 4 parts: coming to the cinema, Rosa and Andrew sitting in the circle before the comedy, the comedy itself and the final part, when Rosa says her opinion about the movie. The culminating point of this story is the moment when Andrew says in excitement, “Good, isn’t it?”, but receives the answer, “I don’t see anything funny in that”. In this scene we can see how different Rosa and Andrew are.
From this fragment we don’t know anything about their origin and social status, but we can guess that Rosa was from richer family than Andrew, that’s why she had better taste and didn’t like the foolish comedy. We can also easily understand it from one sentence: “It pleased her to be seen in the dress circle, even with Andrew”. She hoped to see some of her friends to spend more pleasant time with them, but as she couldn’t see anybody, she had to stay with Andrew. There is one more evidence for it: “Is he really so stupid, she wondered. Yes, I suppose he is”. All these facts show us that Andrew and Rosa had very different social status.
So, we can say that the main idea of this small fragment is to show how difficult it is for people from different classes to understand each other. What is fun for one is absolutely fool for another. Some habits, like talking in the cinema, are absolutely normal for one and unacceptable for another. I think that the moral of the story can be very well illustrated with two proverbs: “Tastes differ” and “A place for everything and everything in its place”.
In order to describe the scene properly author uses different stylistic devices. On the whole he describes the movies that the heroes watched in details, so the reader can easily imagine everything that happened on the screen. For this aim the author forms his speech into short sentences that follow one after another like the scenes of the movie. But to make the story more artistic he uses, first of all, different epithets: “shadowy faces”, “looped curtain”, “hardest hearts”.
Epithets make the speech more artistic and interesting; what is more, they help the reader to imagine everything in details. Secondly, we can see here a personification: “voice rise above another voice and sink again into voluptuous stillness”, which transforms the reality of the cinema in some kind of illusion. The hall was dim, so everything could seem absolutely unreal. Also there are similes: the carpet “yielded like springing turf”, “a hard-worked dog, for you saw it, or another like it, in dozens of these comic films” and other to recall some associations in the readers’ mind and to make the images more “visible”. What is more, similes help the reader understand the way of thinking of different characters and the author, too. For example, the comparison of soft carpet and springing turf must have belonged to Andrew, as he was a member of a working family and knew what the turf was like. As we can guess, Rosa could associate it with something else.
But the main device that the author uses is irony and parody. It is very visible at the moment, when the writer describes the announcement of the “Mothers of Broadway” movie. Here he uses different set phrases that were very common for that time: “The film seemed to have smashed all records. It drew tears from the hardest hearts. It sent thrills down the spine” and others. It is described even with some kind of sarcasm as a sample of bad taste. Also there is an oxymoron: the main part in the “mightiest drama of Broadway” has a “bewitching” actress named Minnie Haha. Also the author uses book and high lexicon for usual things, for example: “to-night he would resist that awful temptation to explain the story in a whisper”, so it’s a burlesque.
The description of the sitcom is also very interesting. It is really neutral, so we can’t see whether the author likes it or not. But then we can see very clear two absolutely opposite points of view. So, we can call it contrast that shows us how different Andrew and Rosa are.
As for me, I liked this story, but I feel pity to Andrew. From different books we know about life in America in the 30-s (for example, Theodore Dreiser’s “American Tragedy”) and we know that young people from lower classes wanted to have better social position and dated with girls from rich families. But the chasm between them is so big and so deep that it’s really difficult for them to be equal. The one thing can have opposite estimations. So, I think that Campbell Nairne had shown everything really truly, without any embellishments.
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