Uncertainty in Spies
“Spies” Written by Michael Frayne is a novel set in world war II but narrated in the present. It is very uncertain how events then were linked to the present. Stephen is a key narrator who begins in the present and then reflects back at the past remembering his childhood which is defiantly uncertain. Stephen returns 50years later at the scene of his childhood to attempt and unpick events of one period of his life. Through mind exploration, he tries to remember what happened and looks back with oblivion about what happened. Stephen notes that” I have no idea, as I try to piece all of this together half a century later, whether he understood or not.” The chill that went through is uncertain because he could not identify him. He could remember the cold around him and fill the frozen paralysis as he crouched but it’s uncertain, why not able to move or think? Why the feeling? The author is not explaining events leading to this feeling.
In this context, Stephen’s failure to understand at last the man who was down there in the darkness when he heard his name spoken “Stephen” is uncertain. Description of Stephens surrounding creates an atmosphere of uncertainty because Stephen could not see. Stephen notes that the voice was not foreign and wonders who the man was. Old Stephen was looking back; and shocked that he didn’t know who the man was. On the other hand, the man is heard saying. The figure seems to know Stephen and the old Stephen wonders if he knew who it was in the hole when his name was spoken. “Again, and as quietly as before. So, it was someone who recognized Stephen. Someone who knew his name” It was interesting how the figure asked why he had come and if “Bobs had sent him. “Was it Bobs who sent you?” Is there anything that Stephen was expecting from Bob? Why did he ask that question? Through the coughing, Stephen was able to realize that it was not a tramp and also realizes he is English and not German. The manner in which Stephen asks the man is uncertain; he sounds as if he knew the man “What are you doing here?” It is uncertain how Stephen was not able to identify the person but again why ask “Why have you come? “It seems that Stephen was expecting something, but it remains uncertain in this context.
There was something between Stephen and the man that created the curiosity. The author uses suspense in this narrative; he leaves the writer wondering why some events were happening yet the person involved is also oblivious. Why couldn’t he admit who Bob was? Stephen was hiding something perhaps he thought the man was a spy, Stephen was holding some secrets. Considering the title of the book “the Spies, “The author used suspense and uncertainty to drive the theme of the novel. Events and activities around Stephen are secretive; they need to be investigated, Stephen himself is not settled: ever suspicious of everything around him. Uncertainty and suspense were used by the author to justify the oblivion around the book Stephen must have known something to do with the man, but the man remained uncertain.
Frayn, Michael. Spies. 1st ed. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002. Print.pg 199-200
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