The stories are set in different times. However because the Mother in ‘Your Shoes’ probably grew up in the time that ‘The Darkness Out There’ was set in, she applies the ideas and morals of what life was like then. She often relates back to when she was a young girl and what her mother was like.
“I grew up in a very old-fashioned family.”
‘Your Shoes’ is set in the nineties and ‘The Darkness Out There’ is set around the seventies. We know this because in the story Mrs Rutter asks Sandra to wash her ‘pastel nylons’ these were around in the 1970’s.
“She squeezed the pastel nylons, the floating sinuous tights.”
The title’s of each story has hidden layers and meanings. Both words, ‘Shoes’ and ‘Darkness’ are symbols. ‘Darkness’ is a symbol of bad, evil and lack of knowledge. It is something we do not like to be associate with. The author of ‘The Darkness Out There’ tells us this because it links to the darkness in the story. It is also linked with the words ‘Out There’ which suggests that it is lurking and coming to get you. In ‘Your Shoes’ the ‘your’ suggest that the author is writing about somebody else and not herself. ‘Shoes’ is also a symbol because the mother treats them like a child, she cuddles them. She can also keep them safe and they can not run away. ‘Shoes’ also informs us that shoes are involved in the story. Both titles inform us about a certain amount of the story. ‘Your Shoes’ is a short snappy title where as ‘The Darkness out There’ is quite a long title. When you read ‘The Darkness Out There’ aloud, it sounds evil because you tend to say it slowly. The authors of both stories use the titles as an effect.
Each writer has a different method of telling the story. In ‘Your Shoes’ the author is the mother. She is writing a monologue. The story is in the form of a letter. She is writing a letter to her daughter who has run away therefore by writing this letter we will learn about what has happened. The mother often looks back and compares herself to her mother and her daughter but does this without realising she is being hypocritical.
She also says a nasty comment about the girl and she calls her “an empty-headed blonde…”.
In ‘The Darkness Out There’ there is a narrator who tells the story. Mrs Rutter looks back and tells us about a German Plane crashing and that her husband has died in the war. However Sandra looks towards the future and the narrator informs us about what her dreams are. These dreams are very unrealistic.
“One day she would have a place in the country.” “A little house peeping over a hill.”
However Kerry also has dreams yet these are far more realistic because he knows what he can achieve.
In ‘Your shoes’ the information is released when the mother thinks of it. However it is released gradually even though she is writing a letter. ‘The Darkness Out There’ is planned so we remember certain things which we can relate to later on in the story. It means nothing to us at first but when we continue to read the story it makes more sense. Throughout the story Mrs Rutter says
“I’ve got a sympathy with young people” and
“I like young people.”
However she lets a young person die because he was German.
In ‘Your Shoes’ we don’t know why the daughter has run away until later in the story. However we do know that she had run away.
“You just went off, just ran out of the house in the middle of the night,”
Later in the story we are told by the mother that the daughter ran away because she came home late and was drunk and her father called her “a dirty slut.”
In ‘the Darkness out There’ you have to piece together certain words and read in-between the lines to find out a hidden meaning.
“Her eyes investigated, as quick as mice.”
“…Her eyes snapped and darted.”
Everything links to her eyes, which people say are the key to the sole. This therefore indicated that she is an evil person. “Snapped” and “darted” are used to describe her as an animal (perhaps a creepy crocodile,) the words are metaphorical because Mrs Rutter would not really have darting eyes. These tell us she is fierce. Kerry can see Mrs Rutter for who she really is but Sandra can only see Mrs Rutter’s faï¿½ade.
In ‘Your Shoes’ the character’s appearances are not really described to us. We are told that the mother is selfish but we are not told what she looks like. This is the opposite in ‘The Darkness Out There’, we are given a lot of information about what the characters look like and we have to figure out the personality of the characters but we are given plenty of clues to piece together to help us do so.
I think both Mrs Rutter and the mother feel unloved and are lonely. Mrs Rutter and the mother think the younger generations are like what they were at the children’s age. However we know this is not true.
The mothers past with an old boyfriend who left her has affected her future and Mrs Rutter’s past with the German plane and her husband dying in the war has affected her. She is a deceptive person. She has tried to cover up the darkness in her with “pretty china ornaments” and tins “painted with cornflowers” and nice possessions. Mrs Rutter does not seem to regret what she has done because she picks “bluebells” from the wood where she left the young man to die.
Both authors use stereotyping. I think the mother is like a stereotypical mother of today. She wants what is best for her child and buys her things that she does not like. However she is still a loving and caring parent. In ‘Your Shoes’ the mother stereotypes young people. She thinks that they all ‘drink alcohol’ and ‘smoke pot’. She also stereotypes a girl called Vanessa (the daughter’s friend). She says
“I wouldn’t be surprised to hear she’s on drugs.
She had that look.”
In this way she is like Sandra because she is stereotyping her daughter’s friend as being into drugs just because the mother thought she looked like someone who was taking drugs. This is like Sandra stereotyping Kerry as being ‘sad’ and not a nice person because he was not in with “her lot”.
“Kerry Stevens from Richmond Way…. Some people
you only have to look at to know they’re not up to much.”
The word ‘thin’ is used instead of slim because it sounds like the person has a plain mind. We also think of that person being cruel and immoral and it is also used to describe people with a skeletal figure whereas slim makes you think of a normal person with a curved figure and a pleasant personality. The author, Penelope Lively of ‘The Darkness Out There’, describes Mrs Rutter as a fat lady. In this story we get the impression that Mrs Rutter is warm and nice, until we read more of the story where she becomes very callous when telling the teenagers about the German plane and leaving the man to die. However in ‘Your Shoes’ the author’s describes her mother as fat. When she describes her mother she is being nasty.
“Fat, lets be honest.”
Both stories are about an adult’s relationship with a teenager that goes wrong. In ‘Your Shoes’ we know straight away that the relationship between a teenager and an adult has gone wrong.
“…how I didn’t really know you at all.”
However in ‘The Darkness Out There’, at first, we do not realise that there is a wrong relationship between Mrs Rutter and Sandra. This is because Sandra is oblivious to Mrs Rutter evilness: She is naive when Mrs Rutter’s compliments her.
“I expect you’ve got lots of boyfriends,
though, haven’t you?”
Kerry realises Mrs Rutter is not what she seems and they do not get on from the start of the story.
“I don’t go much on her.”
I think the reason that the teenagers and adults do not get on is because both women are selfish. We know that the mother in ‘Your Shoes’ is selfish because she speaks a lot about the daughter leaving her.
“…just ran out of the house in the middle of the night, and left me.”
The Mother is distraught with the loss of her Daughter. She realises that she is half-mad because she says:
“Someone half-mad, with grief that is, might pick up a shoe from the rug and hold it like a baby. Someone like me might do that.”
The shoe is a symbol of the child. The mother loves her daughter and is very upset because she is only young. She wants to be able to hold her daughter and tell everything’s OK. She also wants to protect her innocence even though the girl has already proved she is not as innocent as her parents think.
The mother and Sandra (in the beginning of the story) are alike because they both want perfection and live in a pretend, unrealistic world where they try to block out the evil in their life. They both try to control perfection as much as possible. This is shown with the Mother when she wants a pair of shoes bought by her for her daughter to be perfect, perhaps a symbol of what she wanted her daughter to be like.
“The right shoe on the right-hand side and the left shoe on the left.”
They both judge people on appearance. Perfection is what links the story together however the mother wants everything to be perfect throughout the story. Sandra realises that you can not live a perfect life and neither can you control perfection; She realises that there is an inescapable darkness that lives inside us. She realises everything is not how it appears.
“She walked behind him, through a world grown unreliable, in which flowers sparkle and birds sing but everything is not as it appears, oh no.”
Sandra knows how she wants her life to be but these dreams are unrealistic. However the Mother knows her life is not perfect and wishes it were. She relates to a relationship between her and her husband, which suggests that they do not have a romantic or loving relationship with her husband.
“In their proper places, no fuss, like a husband and wife.”
The mother is also lost control of what the Daughter ate. Even when the daughter was eating the mother “urged her to eat proper meals.” She could not stop her eating junk food.
“…late at night I’d catch you raiding the kitchen cupboards.”
She also ties the shoelaces of the pair of shoes that she bought for the Daughter. This suggests a loss of control because she wants to tie her daughter down. It also suggests that she is trying to tie herself and her daughter together. This we know people can not do.
All the knowledge of this love of order and control that the Mother has, tells us about her personality. It suggests that she is a shallow person that needs possessions and perfection to be happy. She tries to control her daughter by buying her things that she would like her daughter to have and that she thinks will make her happy.
“Funny, you never did like those curtains. …I thought they were lovely, really modern with these splashes of white and grey, they were exactly what I’d have wanted as a girl.”
She tries to buy her love with possessions and this has the opposite reaction and makes the daughter rebel. The Mother loves her daughter but makes mistakes. The Mother is pedantic because she is obsessed with detail.
“White laces, that I washed and ironed.”
She also has an image of how a relationship between daughter and mother should be.
“Daughters ought to be close to their mothers.”
The authors of both stories show lack of regret and concern for the actions of both the mother and Mrs Rutter. They make them out to be the nasty and obnoxious by the way they react to certain situations. Mrs Rutter can not see what she has done wrong by letting the German boy die and finds feeble excuses like
“It was bucketing it down, cats and dogs.”
The mother tries to blame other people and not herself.
“It was that mob you got in with at school.”
I would say that both women are distressed by what they have done, however the Mother shows this and Mrs Rutter does not. They have both made mistakes. Mrs Rutter, because of the spirit of the war, was pleased to see the German boy die, but I think after so many years she has come to regret what she has done. I think this because she makes up many excuses about why she did not go and help the boy. The Mother thought she was doing the right thing at the time and still can not see what she has done wrong. She can not see that the daughter feels unloved and the daughter’s parents will not accept her as her own person. They want her to be perfect when really nobody is perfect, especially the Mother.
“I married your father on the rebound, everybody knew that I was desperately in love with Pete, he was the great love of my life, when he went off and left me I thought I might as well marry your father.”
In both stories Sandra and the Mother think they know somebody and are proved wrong. Sandra thinks she knows Mrs Rutter and thinks she is a ‘dear old thing, all on her own,…’ . When Sandra realises that she has left a young boy to die, in the rain and cold, over three days she is horrified.
“Her eyes were on the girl; the girl looked away.”
She looked away because she realised she had misjudged her and even though she looked kind and pleasant she was really a cruel and savage person.
The Mother has stereotyped the daughter very wrongly and this has made the girl rebel against her parents. The Mother finds out, over a short space of time, that she did not know her daughter at all. Once she started to loose control of what she was eating she lost complete control. The daughter did not want her mother to change her life for her, which she was doing by buying her things without asking her whether she wanted them. This made the girl come home late to give her parents a shock. When the Mother found out she was ‘smoking pot’ she realised she had lost complete control of her daughter. She thought she knew her daughter but was proved wrong, because in the beginning of the short story she sums up what she realises has happened.
“I thought I knew you as well as this house. No secret places, no hidey-holes, nothing in you I couldn’t see. Now I realise how you kept yourself from me, how I didn’t really know you at all.”
I think both stories are believable. They both tell a realistic story. The authors of both stories have used reliable pieces of information. I think ‘Your Shoes’ is more believable but that is because it is easier to relate to than ‘The Darkness Out There’. I think it is easier to relate to because it is set in the nineties. I have never known anybody who was alive in the war. They are both interesting stories but because I did not grow up in the seventies it is hard to relate to certain things in the story ‘The Darkness Out There’, for instance “pastel nylons”. I think somebody who grew up in the seventies and who is also alive now would be able to enjoy both stories in far more depth than I have been able to do. I can empathise with the daughter of the story ‘Your Shoes’ therefore it is easier to identify characters and to understand the story. I have never been in such a tragic situation as the daughter in ‘Your Shoes’ has but I feel because she is my age that it is easier to sympathise her in the circumstances. I also feel for the mother in the story because she is so desperate to see her daughter. Her madness seems to me more desperate towards the end paragraphs of the story.
“Laces like strings of white liquorice. They taste sweet. There, my darling, you’re at home with mother, everything’s all right… I love you I love you so much oh yes oh yes.”
I liked both stories because they were factual and understandable. Both of the stories were easy to believe because the authors had spent time researching the situation. From my knowledge of the war I would say that ‘The Darkness Out There’ is a little exaggerated but is believable.
I enjoyed reading both stories. There are many comparisons between each story. The two things that I think link them together are perfection and a misjudgement of a person.