Twisted Lip

‘Front’s complication begins when Patricia Coleman enters the story and almost immediately the writer shows that this relationship doesn’t last very long by putting ‘briefly friends’ at the end of the first sentence. The next few sentences are very important, as the narrator indicates Patricia may be of a lesser economical standing by saying ‘sets, like death cut across class barriers’ when they are put in the same maths set as each other. This just shows how strong the class barriers still where at that time compared to the time ‘Twisted Lip’ was set in, even though they go to the same schools, a lot of people still categorized others in the way of the early 1900’s.

The writer quite cleverly makes out Patricia to be pretending she is something she is not, and later on, proving it. When both narrator and Patricia are on the street corner and she asks ‘are you expected?’ This type of expression is more commonly found in the conversing of the higher class, which the reader may have recently learned that she is not. So doing justice to the irony of the title, Patricia is putting on a ‘Front’ or putting it more frankly, pretending to be something she is not, but another aspect is that Patricia may used to have been financially secure but perhaps her family struck financial hardship. This point does raise questions later in the story to her motivation to want to bring the narrator to her home at the crescent, as this would simply show all to well how badly she lives.

After the narrator had agreed to go to ‘Pat’s house (or slum) the writer show her mothers reaction towards this, and makes it fairly clear that the narrator is less snobbish herself and more worried about what her mother will think. This becomes clearer when the narrator deliberately bends the truth by telling her mother that Pat lives by a fish shop because she is worried that her ‘invitation will be vetoed’ (prohibited) if her mother knew that it was actually a fish and chip shop. The next couple of paragraphs back up the theory that Pat may have been well off, as when the narrator is asked what her father does she replies in thought ‘mummy was spoken of a great deal but not daddy’. This reference the writer probably put in to show again that Pat might speak as a person of a higher class.

The climax to ‘Twisted Lip’ is more subtle, no chases or fights, its simply the suspense, as in ‘Front’ to find out what happened to Neville, the writer uses a good technique to keep the suspense on the readers, he writes that it looks like Holmes knows what happened and as it is narrated by Watson the truth isn’t found out till Watson finds out; the last few paragraphs after Holmes gets to the police station and shows that Boone the cripple is Neville st. Clair. This is especially successful after the long speech between Holmes, Neville’s wife and Watson. Holmes mostly generates the conversation, but this long conversation brings everything into a summary and can put the reader on the edge of their seat.

The build up to the ending of the story however is very effective, as it is written through the eyes of an almost ‘secondary’ character, meaning Watson isn’t the one solving the clues in fact he doesn’t help much at all, he’s also a quiet character, and as some past manifestations of the character shows that he is short and chubby. This does not sound like the regular profile of a main character, but looking at the story at this perspective is very successful and is also more realistic.

That is quite a big difference to ‘Front’ as ‘Twisted Lip’ looks at the main character, or what is most common as a main character (Holmes) and looks at him from a third-person perspective. ‘Front’ on the other hand has only two real characters, and looks at it from the person who the most impact is afflicted on, meaning the narrator in ‘Front’ is the one who is surprised by the state of the crescent and not Pat, it wouldn’t seem relevant for a character like Pat to have a story written around her and her friend being shocked at her house, especially when it seems like Pat doesn’t care anyway.

‘Twisted Lip’s’ writing style is very effective but differs quite strongly to ‘Front’ even though both of the writers focus their climax on more suspense rather than action. The main reason being the long talking periods in ‘Twisted Lip’, which do build suspense, but ‘Front’ spends more time with narration, this can give the character more depth, but can make the story seem a little sparse or sterile, as it is a short story this doesn’t happen.

The suspense in ‘Front’ really begins when the narrator starts to enter ‘The Crescent’ that she made such a big deal of earlier in the story. The writer has given little background evidence but a lot of depth to pat and the narrator, the writer more specifically shows the mental state of them also. It is rather easy to spot with the narrator when she tells herself or rather the reader ‘It did not disappoint me.’ As this is a single sentence the writer has obviously meant this to stand out, it shows that the narrator could be in denial, which would be expected by any normal person and it seems as though she’s only saying that to reassure herself, rather than to inform the reader.

To find out how pat feels the reader will have to look closer, and the motive to look will probably be aroused by the question, why does pat simply disregard the rubbish around her house and simply explain to her friend the truth? Well there are several reasons for this, as some parts of the narration seem to suggest that pat used to have a higher quality of life she is also in denial as to the repugnant appearance of her house, and loathes herself secretly, the other would be that she is quite stubborn and refuses to have to explain herself, which everyone has the right to when its not their fault. Pat simply wants to have and ‘exercise the right to invite a school friend home for tea’.

From as soon as the first hint as to the crescent being, less than thought out to be, the reader knows that the rest of the house isn’t going to be Buckingham palace. This puts the reader in a lot of suspense, and they are not disappointed. As the narrator guides the readers up to Pat’s ‘room’ she speaks about ‘dustbins belching’ and she refers to abandoned bicycles getting in her way ‘like a bunch of yobbos blocking the pavement’ portraying a very messy and unclean place in the readers mind, at this point pat seems even sarcastic about the state of her house ‘mind the bikes, Pat said redundantly,’ this shows again that the writer of ‘Front’ is trying to show the reader that Pat is quite depressed about how she lives.

The writer uses little comments almost like sarcastic jokes about the size and state of Pat’s living area. ‘Then I realized, the kitchen cabinet was the kitchen’ short but frank sentences like these seem funny at first, but then its realized that it wasn’t an overstatement and that it simply the way it is. The writer also shows how the narrator is almost afraid to look around, as she doesn’t want to drown the thoughts she used to have of the crescent in what she had and will see.

The last part of the story is shows how pats mum feels which can really put the readers life in perspective. The words the writer used are effective, for example after pat lit the fire it becomes obvious that she wasn’t allowed to as to her mum’s reaction when the narrator leaves the room ‘Oh Christ, that’s the last of the coal.’ Another hint towards the fact that they didn’t normally live like that is when Pats mum says ‘But to bring anyone to this place…’ this obviously shows that even they don’t like to live there means they’ve lived in places better. Another similarity comes out here, as there are a lot of references to where people live in ‘Twisted Lip’ and ‘Front’s’ climax or pinnacle of the story is about Pat’s house or ‘slum’.

Comparing and Contrasting these two stories is quite difficult, but even the slowest reader can pick up on the relation of references to class and more importantly appearances. It is the subtle and almost impossible to find differences and ironies that really define the stories as being different. How the stories are written is the inevitable difference as different writers have and use different styles, for example the point I made earlier on how the main character the story is focused on in ‘Twisted Lip’s’ case not suitable and yet perfect for its part in the story at the same time, however due to the lack of characters in ‘Front’ it is hard to say that the narrator is not the sort of character for the main part in the story.

How the stories control the reader’s emotions is diversity also, as in ‘Front’ the storyline is very straightforward with no major twists (apart from the crescent) but in ‘Twisted Lip’ the Isa Whitney ‘decoy’, that the first time reader would have thought that this is what the story would be based on. Then the story was a murder mystery, but ironically no murder had been committed at all, it was simply a case of fraud, the other story does inflict emotions but writing in this way is a very good way to make the reader feel just as shocked as the character would feel. What really makes these stories difficult to compare is that the real difference, is in the stories similarity, ‘Front’ is about false appearances and ‘Twisted Lip’ actually does have a false appearance.

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