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The Bath Janet Frame The story centres on the routines of an old womans life and the annual

l preparation for, and visit to, the grave of her husband, seventeen years dead. Within this central event the story focuses closely on a succession of domestic details and arrangements necessary to carry out thi visit. Structure The story has a chronological structure, with one small event following another. the third-person point of view is used to advantage to get inside the mind of this old woman, alternately describing her thoughts and her painful physical sensations. Crisis/climax/key moment There are two key moments in The Bath, one the mirror image of the other. The first is when the old lady sits trapped and terrified in her bath, which takes on the aspect of a grave. Then she had a strange feeling of being under the earth of a throbbing in her head like wheels going over the earth above her. At the end of the story a parallel key moment occurs as the old lady, trying to recapture her feeling of peace in the cemetery, closes her eyes and sees her husbands grave transform into an image of the bathroom the narrow confining bath grass-yellow as old baths are .... waiting .... to claim her forever. we reach our clearest understanding of a characters interaction with the world around them, and begin to understand the storys themes during these key moments. Ending At the conclusion of The Bath we fully understand the enormity of the old ladys physical limits and emotional anguish. The ending is in every sense complete. There is no surprise twist at the end of the story we end up looking at a completed picture of the character which has been carefully put together, piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle, until the ending completes the whole. Setting Dunedin, mentioned by name with specific reference to the

Character We have only one main character in The Bath the old lady, whose difficulties are compunded by the lack of close relationships. She thinks of the niece who is busy having her babies and has no real understanding of her aunts problems and the husband who has been dead for seventeen years. Without any help and support, life for this woman, both physically and emotionally is rapidly becoming untenable. The description of the many tortuous aspects of the old ladys life in minute detail is heightened by the frequent charting of her anxious and at times terrified thoughts. Superb handling of style increases our understanding of the womans predicament through the use of: The short sentence at the beginning or centred within a paragraph (eg She was alone now and Lonelines welled within her). The use of imagery. Getting into the bath meant facing the slippery yellow-stained rim that seemed more like the edge of a cliff with a deep drop below into the sea. The story presents the reader with believable character. The old ladys situation in The Bath is a horrifyingly clear portrayal of loneliness. Theme The Bath is a story which illustrates the anguish and torments of the old who live alone. The overall message of this story is the tragic consequences of loss of physical independence and social isolation, symbolised by the event of becoming trapped in the bath. The realities of the characters life in The Bath are spelled out clearly through the events of the story. The central issue is the characters attempt to cope with her life situation. Mood Chilling and depressing, the mood of this story is relieved only by the appearance of the milder weatheer accompanying the old ladys visit to the cemetery, and her one feeling of pleasure in the care she has taken

of her husbands grave. But the mood is mostly oppressive. Cars and buses surged by, horns tooted, a plane droned, near and far, near and far, children cried out, dogs barked; the sea in competition made a harsher sound as if its waves were now breaking in foam. Finally we are left with her contemplation of the image of the bath and its association with her husbands grave. The mood of this story reaches its most sombre depths at the end we realise that she is entombed alive in a world which has become a nightmare for her. Purpose As in many of her stories, Frame concentrates on revealing a grim aspect of human experience. Her concern is often with people on the fringes of society and the suffering they endure. Her stories entertain, but more importantly they make a serious point. A sensitive reader will be sincerely affected by the horror of the plight of the lonely and elderly. Janet Frame at least raised the questions, how much do we know about the elderly in New Zealand society? How visible are their dilemmas?

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