Home – Iain Crichton Smith – How to Fail

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Personal Study Notes – Jason Fee – Home by Iain Crichton Smith QUESTION: What techniques does the author use to show what the word “Home” really means to the main character? Introduction A short story I have read and thoroughly enjoyed is “Home” by “Iain Crichton Smith” I chose this short story because I found the authors’ style of writing interesting and the way he showed the characters’ experiences and emotions. The short story is based around the main characters’ understanding of home and the experience he has which, I believe, changes his idea of the definition of home.

In this essay I will analyse the techniques used by the author to show the true definition of the word “Home” to the main character. Very early in the short story the author makes good use of language techniques. The main character is out of place in Glasgow. “They walked into the close whose walls were brown above and a dirty blue below, pitted with scars. ” The author describing the walls of the close as “pitted with scars” suggests that the walls are old and damaged, and thus have been vandalised due to local delinquents and lack of money or care or to bother to fix it.

The word “Scars” has connotations of danger and suggests people could get hurt in this area. Although the main character stays optimistic at this point he starts to realise that the area is not the way he remembered it, because when he lived there, the low standard of the area was what he was accustomed to. An Interesting technique the author uses is atmosphere early in the story. The atmosphere of Glasgow is important to the main character as the contrast between the man and his surroundings give key insight to his personal opinion of home. The black polished car drew up outside the brown tenement... Somebody had written in chalk the words YA BASS” The author describes the tenements as brown which the reader interprets as a connotation of poverty and dirt, which casts a significant contrast of the main character arriving in a “black polished car”. The word “Polished” indicates wealth and the word “black” could indicate sophistication. This line is significant to his loss of his sense of belonging to the area he used to live in.

This is important as it shows his indifference and leads to events which affect his overall realisation. Another technique the author uses is his creation of characters in the story. The main character is treated differently than before because of the wealth he has obtained since he was last in Glasgow. “Get out of here, daddy, before we cut you up, and take your camera and your bus with you, and your bag too, right? ... pat and said quietly Tourist” Because the main character is wealthy, compared to the area he is visiting, he is treated as an outsider to that area, whom the youths don’t seem to accept. They mock him with his age by calling him “daddy” and threaten him. The author’s use of creating characters is important in making the main character feel unaccepted and uncomfortable, which are the two factors he realises are what make a place his “Home” His happy memories of his friends confirm this.

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