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Unformatted text preview: short stories. At the outbreak of World War 1, Munro joined the British Army as an ordinary soldier and was killed by a German sniper in the trenches in 1916. Synopsis The story focuses on a young, sickly boy, Conradin, who lives with his cousin/guardian, Mrs. de Ropp, in a dreary, loveless house. She seems to enjoy punishing him, and he in turn hates her. He retreats to his haven of peace, a garden shed where he keeps two pets, and he allows his imagination to run wild. Mrs. de Ropp discovers the pets, and after getting rid of the first, she goes to remove the second, with unexpected results. Genre Social satire (literature that criticizes or ridicules a particular vice or personality type of the time) Setting A city house, dull, middle class and cheerless, with a garden containing a tool shed. The house is dreary and gloomy with little joy and laughter. Characters Mrs. de Ropp is Conradin’s cousin and guardian. She is a strict, religious, controlling, and disagreeable woman who pesters and dominates Conradin, making his life miserable. She enjoys disciplining him as “her duty”. She is short‐sighted, and her opinion is unquestioned. Conradin is a sickly, ten‐year‐old boy in the care of Mrs. de Ropp. He is lonely and unloved and hates her intensely. He retreats into the secret world of his vivid imagination through his haven in the garden shed where he pours out his affection on his pet hen and worships his pet ferret. He is smothered in a 4 neurotic, over‐protective way by Mrs. de Ropp, who feeds him medicines and is told by the doctor that he will not live long. He takes pleasure in doing things which annoy her. Themes divine justice, triumph over evil, satirizing the ugly side of fanatically controlling religious people who pose as moral do‐gooders Tone The tone is satirical with touches of humour, irony, and understatement. Plot Development Conradin escapes the oppressive dominance of his guardian by spending time in his tool shed with his pets. He worships the ferret whom he names SredniVashtar, and his cage becomes a shrine. His guardian notices that he spends too much time there and inspects the place, taking away his pet hen. Conrad is devastated, and that evening, he humbly prays to SredniVashtar to do something for him. The reader is not told what this is, which adds to the mystery and tension. Mrs. de Ropp visits the shed again with the key to Sredni’s cage, while Conradin waits with a sense of dread and defeat, watching from a window and chanting his prayer to Sredni. It is answered and Conradin is overwhelmed with a sense of triumph. Language and style The language is formal but engages the reader as the plot gathers pace. Dialogue is used sparingly and the author is master of the subtly suggested image. Much depth is added by hints, suggestions, innuendos (in...
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