The fifth child - analysis of the opening scene

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  • Publié le : 2 janvier 2011
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The first pages of the book are very important as they present the two protagonists and set the atmosphere.
Here we learn about the heroes’ first meeting, their physical description, what they have in common, their differences and social backgrounds.

From the very first lines, we understand that they are different from the other people, who represent the British society of thelate 60s. (l.5-6)

The scene takes place at an office party

This extract can be divided into 6 parts:
- Aliens
- The others
- What they think of others
- Harriet’s physical description
- David’s physical description
- Foreshadowing

| |David |Harriet ||Physical description |serious grey-blue eyes |blue eyes, soft but thoughtful |
| |contemplative gaze |lips rather too firmly closed |
| |slight young man |strong and good features|
| |a round candid face |curly dark hair |
| |soft brown hair |solidly built |
|Age |young|healthy young woman |
|Job |Architect |Graphic designer: works in the sales |
| | |department of a firm that designed and |
| ||supplied building materials |
|How they see each other |similar mental comments l.58 |l. 49-51 + l. 56 mirrored her own |
|What they think of the party and the people |l. 30 forced hecticity | |
|How people see them || |
|at the party |women feel uncomfortable |unnoticed at the party (pastel blur l. 34-35)|
| | |idem l. 4-7 |
|in general|aliens, out of society | |

Fate is an important element in this passage. The encounter between the 2 protagonists is the effect of chance: neither of them really wanted to go to the party but from the moment when they meet, they feel they are made for each other.
David and Harriet's common fate has alreadystarted, even before they meet. There are hints to show that they were bound to meet.
- Same adjectives used to describe them: even before meeting, they are given the same qualities.
- “most” l. 18 ≠ “a few” l. 24 (they are part of the few)
- Didn’t want to come but finally satisfied even if they feel different (l. 2-3 “knew at once”)
- l. 30-32 had not expected to share
- l.56 “Not Harriet”
- l. 58 “similar comments”
- Harriet is described as in an Impressionist picture: she belongs to another century (19th). She is a symbol of the relics of an archaic England. Victorian England, like their Victorian house.
- “She knew his look of watchful apartness mirrored her own” l.56-57 + “neither… both” l. 2 + l. 26 + l. 60: similarity in what they are and what...
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