At the beginning of these stories everything seems quite normal. In “Examination Day” it’s Mr and Mrs Jordan’s son’s birthday. They were happily celebrating the occasion. In “The Stolen Bacillus” a scientist is talking to a visitor about his experiments. As the writer starts getting into the story we realise from the authors description things aren’t all they seem.
In “Examination Day” there seems to be a very tense and uneasy atmosphere that has been caused by the talk of the exam. The writer shows that his parents are quite concerned about it because Dickie noticed the,
“Moistness of his mother’s eyes.”
This grabs the reader’s attention as you wonder why anyone would so anxious and upset over an exam.
Other things that gets the reader wondering about what’s going on when Dickie’s father is sitting in the armchair and he’s reading a paper, but the paper isn’t an ordinary paper, it’s a government paper. This shows the reader that the paper is controlled by the government and they probably only print what they want the citizens to know. This makes the reader wonder why it’s not a daily paper and why it’s a government paper. What could the government possibly want to hide from the public? Another thing that makes the reader wonder is when Dickie asks his father simple questions and his father doesn’t not reply with the answers instead he gets agitated that Dickie keeps asking him questions. We don’t know if this is because he doesn’t know himself or if he’s trying to intentionally mislead his son especially when Dickie asks his father how far away the sun is he replies by saying
“Five thousand miles away.”
When the family sit down together everything seems normal again and the reader starts to wonder whether they were just reading too much into things. But then Dickie’s father says before he sits the exam he will need to drink some liquid. This baffles the reader as you wonder why any one would need to drink something before taking an exam. When Dickie’s father explains that you drink it so the government can tell whether or not you are answering the questions truthfully this confuses the reader but also makes the reader aware that this isn’t a normal government.
When Dickie arrives at the Government Educational Building everyone seems quite formal which I suppose you would expect from the way the building is described. The building itself is described as though it is thought of very highly, with marble floors, great pillars and automatic elevators making it sound very superior. The reader can tell this building has a lot of importance and later we realise that in this building life and death is decided. When Dickie enters the exam room he is told to drink the liquid that his father told him about and it seems to make him drowsy, we later realise that this drink was actually a truth drug. This concerns the reader as the reader starts to wonder why any one would need to drink a truth drug before taking a test. The equipment used in the exam shows you that this story is set in the future as it is all advanced technology. As soon as Dickie sat down the microphone, which was on the left of the chair “conveniently” found its way at Dickie’s mouth.
The man leaves Dickie alone but before he goes he says to Dickie just say ready when your ready and this is the first time that Dickie has any control what so ever. When Dickie does say he’s ready a machine starts asking him questions and that’s all we know about the test.
When the author writes about the Jordans waiting for the results of their son’s exam this really builds the tension to the story as the Jordans are sitting in silence
“Not speaking, not even speculating.”
Because they were afraid to voice their thoughts and opinions.
As soon as the phone rings Dickie’s mother tries to get to the phone, as she was anxious and desperately wanted to know what had happened. The official voice tells them that Dickie was cleverer than the government regulation. The reader can just sense that this isn’t a good thing especially since his mother starts to cry! But when the voice goes on to ask whether they want a private or a government burial this astonishes and saddens the reader. It seems so unreal to give intelligence that is valued in this society the death penalty.
In “The Stolen Bacillus” the author paints a pen portrait of the visitor to the bacteriologist laboratory making him seem very strange and sinister.
“Lank black hair and deep grey eyes, the haggard expression and the nervous manner.”
But then as the as the scientist talks about the “Cholera germ” he himself sounds strange and sinister in the way he talks about the cholera germ. He refers to it as a person, a killer.
“One can neither smell nor taste, say to them”
This makes the reader think that maybe the scientist is an evil scientist with a plan. The scientist realises that he’s said too much and shuts up.
“He stopped abruptly. He had been told rhetoric was his weakness.”
The reader starts to wonder exactly what kind of scientist he is as a scientist wouldn’t talk like that. They would just tell the facts. The reader is still wary of the visitor as well as he condemns anarchists for using bombs and not something as deadly as this. So it appears to the reader that both the scientist and visitor are up to something evil.
After the scientist’s wife knocks on the door disturbing them both the visitor seems really anxious and impatient making excuses that he has to leave. This leaves the reader very suspicious. The scientist realises that he can’t find the test tube of the “Cholera Germ” and the reader soon realises that, that’s why the visitor was in such a hurry to leave.
The chase between the visitor and the scientist really builds up the tension as you wonder whether the scientist will ever be able to catch up with the visitor who is thought to be an anarchist.
“More if only we get away!”
Says the visitor who is desperate to get away from the scientist.
The wife chasing the scientist just adds humour to the story. When the three cabs, which are being driven away furiously go past the cabmen who are standing around talking add more humour to the story by calling things out such as,
“It’s old George and hes drivin’a loonatic”
The test tube cracks when the visitor is trying to get his balance. As the visitor realises that he can’t get away from the scientist he swallows the “Cholera germ” which is the climax of the whole story. The reader is probably more intrigued here than at any other bit. Once the visitor goes on the reader realises he’s not an anarchist he’s just a man that wants to be known one way or another. The reader gets confused when the scientist starts to beam instead of being worried or shocked he’s beaming. When he starts explaining to his wife that it was actually a “cholera germ” but instead it was Bacterium, which has turned animals blue. The reader realises why the scientist was beaming. To the reader it seems as though the visitor has been saved from a great tragedy that would never have taken place because there was never any “Cholera germ”
In both stories the stories were surprising but also totally opposite. “The Stolen Bacillus” was an unusual story but “Examination Day” was a more serious story with a sad ending. As we read “The Stolen Bacillus” we thought that the ending would be tragic but instead it was an anti climax as we realised the scientist was just trying to make himself look a better scientist than he actually was. In “Examination Day” the reader wouldn’t have thought the ending would be as tragic as it was. A young boy got punished because he was too clever. The twist in the story was very unexpected.