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Recreative writing and discussion on The Woman Who Walked into Doors

Charlo bought him a bike for his thirteenth. I say bought. I have no idea where it came from, the money for it or the thing itself, nearly new as well. I nearly made the mistake of asking, I nearly screamed, the stuff we could have bought with that money. Nicola had never had a present like that, still hasn’t. Neither have the other two. But I didn’t ask.- Aw, da! That’s brilliant!- I know, Charlo said.- Where did it, I mean where did yer — Well see that it doesn’t end up in the canal. Or at the scrappy’s.- It won’t I promise, Jesus it’s great!Funny how he knew it was his dad that got him it. He didn’t even look at me. It was a nice bike, blue with no rust. One of the brakes squeaked but it only meant that you could hear him coming.After that he’d disappear every day after school. His tea always got cold until I stopped cooking it. That bike took him to other worlds. Who knew there were other worlds a couple of streets away? Other worlds you could get to on a bike. I lost him. That’s two kids I’ve lost then. Two kids he’s lost me. When he did come back he would always have something new to show off, in that way of his. Showing it off by not showing it off. Walking in and up the stairs without saying anything, so that Leanne and Jack would have to ask to find out.- Where’d yer get that black eye?- Did the other fella come off worse?- Where’d yer get that magazine?- Eeeh! Why’s she got no clothes on?- Where’s all yer hair gone?- Did yer have the nits?I never knew if the other fellas came off worse, but I was pretty sure you didn’t have to have the nits to become a skinhead.313 wordsCommentaryMy recreative writing attempts to explain the character of John Paul Spencer. I based this extract on the quotation: “My John Paul was a little angel until about three days after his thirteenth birthday.”I chose to think laterally to explain this change in John Paul, as I felt that if Doyle had furthered his writing on this issue, the change would have been brought about by a physical catalyst (the bicycle) rather than the obvious emotional changes associated with a teenage boy.In order to replicate the form of “The Woman Who Walked into Doors”, I would choose to place this extract close to the end of the novel, before Charlo’s exit, so that it is still in the reader’s mind when John Paul protests about Paula’s treatment of Charlo. Doyle has structured the novel in a way that shows the events of Paula’s life, building up tensions between characters, and sympathy for Paula, ending with the climax of the role reversal. At the time of John Paul’s thirteenth birthday, Paula has been married to Charlo for fifteen years, and has subsequently sustained a decade and a half of abuse. This explains Paula’s resigned attitude – a result of the abuse sustained, and the lack of power she wields within her marriage. Paula seems weary, and although the implications of the gift upset her, she has learned not to ask questions: “I nearly made the mistake of asking, I nearly screamed, the stuff we could have bought with that money… But I didn’t ask.” This is reminiscent of Chapter 28, when Charlo burns a wad of money and Paula imagines the possibilities it held.Throughout The Woman Who Walked into Doors, there is a sense of apologia; this is replicated in my piece in Paula’s confession of her helplessness over the “loss” of John Paul. Paula is attempting to come to terms with these feelings, and feels partly responsible for this. The reader is encouraged to pity Paula because of the way she is represented as a victim, however, the reader could also feel contempt for Paula because of her failure to face up to Charlo, or act on the fact that she holds him responsible for the loss of two of her children.I structured the recreative piece in a way as close to Doyle’s writing style as I could get. I used short sentences with very little description, as well as ominous comments that are not fully explained, from which the reader can make inferences, but not receive any clear message.The sentences are mainly simple in structure; they flow like speech, but still seem disjointed, and are split up using only the most basic punctuation: “After that he’d disappear every day after school. His tea always got cold until I stopped cooking it. That bike took him to other worlds.”I also attempted to show Paula’s insecurities about facing up to her problems. This is evident in the first paragraph, when through remembering and analysing the incident, she has reminded herself that John Paul loved his father more: “Funny how he knew it was his dad that got him it. He didn’t even look at me. It was a nice bike, blue with no rust.” Paula tries to deflect interest away from this realisation – switching to a description of the bike.I demonstrated the ominous quality Paula’s “voice” through her mention of the baby she lost, comparing it with the sense of loss she feels for John Paul. “That’s two kids I’ve lost then. Two kids he’s lost me.” Paula also articulates that she holds Charlo responsible for the loss of two of her children. We know that Charlo is at least partly to blame for the rift between Paula and John Paul, as he felt that Paula was coming between himself and his son, and subsequently beat her for it. For this reason, Paula stands back slightly from John Paul’s life, and they begin to drift apart. I showed Charlo as being responsible for this: by acquiring the bike for John Paul, he provides him with a ticket away from his mother. The irony is that in becoming gradually more distant from his family, John Paul actually becomes more like his father.Paula blames Charlo for the miscarriage of her baby in a much more obvious way than this: “Born too early; born by a fist.” However Paula is different from other literary characters that have experienced loss, in that Paula does not show any hatred towards Charlo: she exhibits very little resentment. For this reason, once Paula had alluded to the fact she holds Charlo responsible for both incidents, she moves swiftly on: “Two kids he’s lost me. When he did come back…”A part of the novel that was of particular use was Chapter 9, page 38. I referred to this when writing the section about Leanne and Jack’s questions, I referred to Chapter 9, page 38:- Fuck off.- Fuck off, yourself.- Fuck off.Day in, Day out.- Get your fuckin’ hands off me.- Do your own fuckin’ homework.This section was useful because of the nature of the remarks; they are not attributed to any person in particular, this adds impact, and increases involvement, as the reader speculates over to whom each remark belonged.Leanne and Jack would have to ask to find out.- Where’d yer get that black eye?- Did the other fella come off worse?- Where’d yer get that magazine?- Eeeh! Why’s she got no clothes on?- Where’s all yer hair gone?- Did yer have the nits?I replicated this in the above section of direct speech, where Paula mentions that Leanne and Jack asked questions about John Paul’s new life, but only hints that these are the questions asked.1,004 words (excluding quotations)

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