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Reviewing The Novel Back By Henry Green English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 831 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This passage, written in third person is an extract from the novel ‘Back by Henry Green’ which is about a young man named Charley. The setting is depicted as rural, at a grave yard in England. The first lines of the extract begin with the reference of the setting and location of detail. “A country bus up below the church…” and “it was a summer day in England”. The novel was completed in 1946. Taking this year in the consideration, we could deduce that it could have been written in the end of the year of World War II.

Charley is miserable and emotional about Rose’s death. The reader is informed about a little boy at the end of the extract who the reader can assume to be their child ‘boy of about six came’. Furthermore, with Rose’s death and the little boy at the end of the extract we see a close interaction between life and death.

The reader notices one of the main themes is love – Charley loves Rose and is miserable about her death as he wasn’t in England during her death. ‘Rose had died while he was in France’ portrays that Charley was sad and heart-broken as he wasn’t there when the person he loved most passed away. In addition to this we see the boy’s existence the grave yard very symbolic. ‘He stood on one side in spite of the gate being close between two of them’ conveys that the child opens the gate when it was closed. Thus he wanted all the depression and sadness to get out of those gates in a metamorphic manner for the father.

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However we see an interaction between life and death in this extract ‘briar roots’ show death, as briar is a mass of prickly plants and roots which are found under the ground. Hence, the body of Rose is also under the ground thus ‘briar roots’ symbolise death. Furthermore ‘briar’ is a plosive word which intensifies the idea of death. On the other hand ‘roots’ can also show birth as it supports the tree and that’s how a tree lives. Moreover this tress could also be seen as their family tree.

When the author mentions ‘that if a person’s nature is at all alive after he or she has gone ,than she could never imagine herself here nailed into a box in total darkness’, it conveys  that Rose  may have had a cheerful and lively personality  as the writer mentions that she could never imagine herself in darkness. As well as the ‘nailed box’ foreshadows death as it talks about the coffin where a death body lies. Furthermore, the reader finds out about a little boy who we could assume to be her child and this may leave space for a new beginning of life for Charley.

As we move forward, notice that the writer has used physical details for Charley such as ‘peg leg’ and ‘young’ which immediately grabs the reader’s attention and portrays there is something wrong that has happened. Since its weird for a young boy to have a ‘peg leg’, society usually has a stereotypical picture in which they are healthy and fit.

Plus the tone is very formal, yet at the same time melancholic. The reader gets a very sorrowful visual image for Charley. Since the person who he lobed living for is no longer in the world ‘she was dead’.

Also ‘propping himself on his stick, he moved slowly up that path to the wicket gate’ shows that Charley is having trouble walking to the grave yard, yet he is so determined to reach up. Further with the use of ‘wicket gate’ the writer personifies the gate as someone really cruel and nasty. Therefore here Charley finds the gate to be very dark. There is a wide use of different sentences. The writer has used short sentences such as the writer uses complex sentences to convey how complicated life has become for Charley as the person he lived for was no longer there. Also the diction is very simple however the writer uses word play which makes the text more interesting to read.

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Furthermore, with the use of adjectives the writer makes his writing rich and interesting ‘blood coloured bricks’ with the use of ‘blood’ it attracts the reader’s attention – that way the reader doesn’t perceive the brick just as red, ‘blood’ makes it sound sinister and it successfully conveys the atmosphere. This adjective plays a major role as it informs the reader that the extract would be of someone dying or then or than war. As blood symbolises both of them.

To conclude, this passage is very interesting and sets the tone, mood and atmosphere for the rest of the novel. It brings in a brief description of what the novel would be about. As well as it leaves the reader curious not knowing who the little boy would be. Hence, this extract talks about Charley and his love for Rose which might slowly deteriorate.


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