‘The Children of Dynmouth’ by William Trevor

Compared to Coketown, Dynmouth seems surreal. It is cut off from events, which are happening in the real world, and appears to be trapped in the past without any chance of a future. Dynmouth itself is quite a pretty town but it is both undemanding and extremely dull. Trevor’s choice of vocabulary indicates the writer’s feelings about the town. While nothing suggests it is ugly – like Coketown – the words used such as ‘limited’ and ‘unspectacular’ make the town appear unattractive and superficially undemanding. The town does seem understated.

By grouping words together such as ‘alike’, ‘every’ and ‘pattern’ in clusters Trevor uses them to describe just how tedious the town really is and how it lacks imagination and creativity. By listing names of places giving no detail, except simply naming them, adds to the monotony. Trevor, like Dickens, also uses strong contrasts. The social hierarchy is shown by the position of the houses on the hill, starting with the cramped terraces at the bottom gradually increasing in size the further up the hill they are, with large detached houses and their own private gardens at the top.

The forgotten council estate is kept well out of the way on the other side of town. Dynmouth has the same social stratification as anywhere else at that time, between the ‘stylish’ pier with its ‘ornamental lampposts’ and ‘the ancient Essoldo Cinema in flaking pink’. As nothing of any importance ever happens in Dynmouth, the arson attempt at the Queen Victoria hotel gives it the notoriety it has longed for and was mentioned on the ‘inside page of the Daily Telegraph’. The fact that it was attempted by a Sicilian, a foreigner makes it worse because he is thought of as different and does not belong in Dynmouth.

The colours, which Trevor uses, differ greatly to those of Dickens, with colours such as green and pink, which represent safety. Superficially Dynmouth and Coketown are very different places. On one hand Dynmouth has retained its history, although very boring, it is both genteel and pretty, Whereas Coketown on the other hand is new, brash and ugly in its Uniformity. A clear difference between the two places is the manner in which they work. People in Coketown are not seen as living flesh but simply hands, whereas life in Dynmouth seems a lot easier.

The writer’s purposes are also very different. Dickens’ purpose is to promote awareness of the gruelling work conditions, which many have to endure and to inform of the political system, which denies any imagination whatsoever. Trevor’s purpose is completely different. It is setting the scene for a novel. It is trying to show that behind the net curtains there is fomenting passions. There are also a number of similarities between the two towns; both are extremely dull with apparently little opportunity and creativity.

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