Keywords: allusions, novel, fairytales, comparisons, literature.
В статье автор исследует использование аллюзий в романе Джулии Дарлинг «Дочь таксиста».
Ключевые слова: аллюзии, роман, сказки, сравнение, литература.
This research is dedicated to the investigation of the use of literary allusions in the social novel ‘The Taxi Driver’s Daughter written by a British author Julia Darling. The book was created in 2003. It depicts a life of an ordinary family. The mother of the family is sent to prison for stealing a shoe and assaulting a policeman, and the father and daughters’ old life transforms beyond recognition.
Julia Darling’s style is really unique and interesting. She uses many original and striking comparisons (for example, she says that one of the heroes, Mac, ‘drives like a man in a pot of treacle’), the dreams of the heroes have metaphorical meaning and the way of narration in present simple is also quite unusual. The use of the allusions always seems to be very skillful and relevant, which makes the book even more attractive for the readers.
In recent years a steady interest in the allusion phenomenon that helps us to understand the artist’s intention better is registered. The allusion is defined as ‘a hint at something, presumably known to the reader, frequently from literature of mythology’ . According to this all allusions in the novel can be subdivided into two types: a direct mention of some literary work and a hint at this literary work without designating its title.
The allusions play a crucial role in Julia Darling’s novel. Apparently, the second type dominates there. Such allusions connect the story with a large layer of magical fairytales. For instance, the majority of the heroes are associated with particular characters from fairytales. It is one of the author’s ways of creating an artistic image. So, Caris, the main heroine, is dreaming about a wonderful princess’ life. Since her early childhood she likes putting on beautiful long dresses and high-heeled shoes. Her grandmother, Nana Price, recalls a moment from this period. As she remembers, her husband Walter used to call Caris Princess whenever he saw her wearing glamorous shoes and jewels. Caris’ mother, Louise, also remembers her daughters love to the stories of princesses and castles and beautiful things. When we see Caris for the first time, she is decorating the tree and dreaming about wearing a dress made of tinsel and glass slippers on her feet (exactly like Cinderella). However, it’s also important for her to matter, say great things and make decisions about a world outside. In the moments of such wishes she dreams about being not a princess, but a queen. In fact, her image is not as romantic, as it may seem at first glance. Although she likes beautiful clothes and jewelry, she never puts them on. On the contrary, she wears old unwashed clothes and doesn’t care for her own appearance. It shows some contradictions in her character that are typical for many teenagers, but it is also a way Julia Darling uses such allusions. The author never makes her characters copy usual heroes of the popular fairytales. Their similarities only show some of the features of their characters or appearances. This is extremely true for Caris’ boyfriend, George.
When Caris sees that boy for the first time, she thinks that he looks like a prince from a fairytale. George is very beautiful. He has long blond hair, blue eyes; his eyelashes can make any girl envious. George is much better-looking than most of the boys at Caris’ school, he resembles models from magazines: clothes hang easily on him, wherever he goes he stands out. George was born in a rich family and lives in a gorgeous big house, which adds for his image. But something is wrong with this ‘prince’. His hair is greasy and uncut; he smokes and, as Mac, Caris’ father, notices, treats Caris as if he owns her. Gradually a beautiful prince transforms into a cruel and tyrannical manipulator. Actually, he has always been such a person. From one of the chapters we find out that he was expelled from school because he had tormented a boy called Wilson. Moreover, George was so rotten that he felt happy doing it. But Caris is in love with George, and she doesn’t know any details of that incident. She just notices that George feels uncomfortable in daylight. It makes us subconsciously compare him with evil dark creatures — vampires, maybe, or werewolves. When Caris falls from the tree, George doesn’t even panic. He only worries about himself and his possible problems. He takes the girl to the nearest pub, kisses her and goes away. Here we can find an allusion to the fairytales about Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. But George’s kiss doesn’t return the girl to life. Such an interpretation of a famous story known by everyone leads the reader to the boy’s revelation, when Caris finally understands his real nature. The situation is horrible. When George and Caris broke in the house for the second time, they understood that there was a hostess in one of the rooms. She saw George and he was going to kill her. Caris’ feelings to the boy change immediately. She starts to hate him. Now George looks monstrous. He cleans his fingernails with a knife and glances slyly. Then he puts on a fur coat and admires himself in the mirror. At this moment he looks like an animal in human clothes and the reader recalls that time when he resembled a monster walking with Caris in the town. George likes Caris’ fear; he threatens to kill her too. When Mac comes to rescue his daughter and George is caught and rendered innocuous, the boy starts screaming. The author compares him with an apparition and a goblin (typical evil characters from fairytales). His eyes are glittering and bloodshot. All the characters: Caris, her sister Stella, Mac and the old hostess start laughing and George eventually panics and runs away. It is also typical for fairytales where good emotions can drive the evil out. The setting of the episode resembles one from a frightening fairytale too. The house looks old and abandoned, its windows are shuttered. Inside the teenagers see a vast shining table with two candlesticks, heavy drapes and an ornate Victorian fireplace. It seems to Caris that the house is breathing in the sleep. Suddenly the girl is terrified by an old croaking voice revving up like a rusty engine. The whole situation may have some similarities with a fairytale ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Like in Julia Darling’s book there was an old house (a castle) where a hero came that looked abandoned, but alive, and someone (the Beast) lived there. In that fairytale the Beast turned into a prince. In ‘The Taxi Driver’s Daughter’ it was just the other way round, which, as I have already said, is typical for the writer.
The secondary characters in the novel also resemble some fairytales heroes. Louise worked as a servant with low wages when she was young. Rubbing the hostess’ shoes she, like a Cinderella, was singing and dreaming about a better life. She was enjoying the beautiful things in the house and, when she returned home, she called it a palace. As we find out later, she had passion for fairytale life even when she was in prison. That time when she was working in the Farrish’s house, Louise was poor, but happy, because her happiness didn’t lie in money. She had her family and they all loved each other. However, she wasn’t a typical Cinderella. She wasn’t a perfect character. When her pride was wounded, she got the hostess’ bag and took as much money as, she thought, she deserved. She also stole a shoe and assaulted a policeman.
Caris’ granny, Nana Price, is depicted, in her turn, as a typical witch. She lives in a festering bungalow up on the coast and her house is chaotic. Her garden is full of nettles, thorn bushes and cow-parsley, the house needs cleaning, or even pulling down. Nana drinks a lot, smokes in the rooms and doesn’t do anything to help in the house, when she moves to her daughter. However, in reality she is better than she may seem. Nana loves her family, she wants them to be happy, tries to solve some problems and give pieces of advice. She just is not always able to do what has to be done.
There is one more character in the book that cannot be forgotten. It is the Tree of Shoes. This symbol comes from English songs for children. It plays an important role of the center of the art space in the novel. All of the main events happen close to it, the people of the town love and protect it; they bring it some tribute and make wishes, which makes it look like a pagan deity. The storyline of the tree starts when Layla hurls Caris’ shoes in the branches. It was the first pair of shoes that appeared there. Caris tries to get them, but fails. At that moment she sees George for the first time. Then the children start meeting near the tree and George hangs some shoes there on purpose. He says that when one does it he or she can make a wish. Later this idea will be developed. A black woman who sees George in the branches tells him not to hang shoes in a tree. She believes that he hangs people’s souls up there. The idea appeals to the boy, he feels like a king sitting in the tree. Gradually people of the community start bringing their shoes to the tree. They like the idea and tell their friends about the Tree of Shoes. Even down-to-earth Stella, who is sick of Caris, hurls there her favorite boots and makes her wish. She wants Caris to leave her alone, and that is the thing she asks the Tree to do. Her wish almost came true. Caris fell from the tree and for some time nobody knew where she was. That moment was very important for Caris and for the whole story. It is the first of two climaxes in the novel, a turn that changed many things. Caris was emotionally and physically exhausted and when she saw that the only thing that belonged only to her, that she created herself was ruined, she was too shocked. But after spending some time at hospital Caris returned home. Then she went away again, and that time the situation was very dangerous. Without really thinking why Stella changed her mind and, taking her shoes off and hanging them in the tree, wished that Caris returned and everything went right. Finally her wish came true. Such stories, where a hero makes a wish, regrets doing it and changes it are typical for fairytales. When Caris looks at the Tree after her rescue, she sees that it is covered with shoes again. All people in the community gathered to replenish it. So, the Tree unites the heroes. It also works with Caris and her family. Before her falling, Caris says to George that she misses her mother. After that she starts talking to Louise with telling her about the Tree. It is the first time in several months when the girl confided in mother. The moment is very important for both of them. Suchlike thing happens between Caris and her father when the girl shows Mac the Tree after her rescue from George. So, there is no doubt that the Tree of Shoes, inspired by traditional English songs is one of the main and most important heroes in the book. classical English
Talking about the great works of literature, Julia Darling several times sends the reader to ‘Gulliver's Travels’ by Jonathan Swift and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. The writer plays with sizes. She makes some characters’ height in the other characters’ eyes higher or lower on purpose. For example, when Caris sees George’s parents for the first time, it seems to her that they look tiny. That time they resemble dolls in the house. Caris wants to stretch her hand, pick them out and hold them in her palm. This change in height shows that Caris doesn’t respect these people. She is in love with George who almost despises his parents, so, she subconsciously copies his attitude to them. The change is also made to show a generation gap. Their own lives, interests and world seem to the teenagers much more important than those of their parents or relatives. However, at school Caris also thinks that everyone is shrinking. Everything seems to her little and unimportant. She feels uncomfortable there; this world is not for her. Now, when she is with George, her school becomes only a childish place.
The first book mentioned in the novel is ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare. Stella is rehearsing the main female lead for the school play when she and Caris find out that their mother was arrested. The girl likes acting and dreams about being a star. She spends much time preparing for the premiere and gets used to the role of a wicked Lady Macbeth. When Caris’ enemies Layla and Margaret try to mock Stella talking about her imprisoned mother, the girl fights back. She imagines herself to be her heroine and makes the two girls who always bully the weak run in fear. Stella understands her power and even feels sympathy for her sister, who never has such a shield made of words.
The writer also mentions Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Oliver Twist’. Caris sees it on the shelf in the house where she and George broke in. It helps the author to make clear allusive parallels between the main heroes of the two books. Like Oliver, Caris takes up a thief’s life. She has a leader (George) who gradually makes her do the things she is not sure about. We know that ‘Oliver Twist’ has a happy end and also that the leader of the band came to no good. It gives us a hint at the way the story will finish, which is very interesting.
One more famous British novel used by Julia Darling is ‘Pride and Prejudice’. It is well-known all over the world and the readers of ‘The Taxi Driver’s Daughter’ can compare the events and characters in both books and make their own conclusions. The first thing that is similar in these two stories is that the heroes who have romantic relationships come from very different families. Caris (and Elizabeth) is poor, while George (and Mr Darcy) is quite rich. To find the whole sense of using this allusion we have to correlate the title of the book with the situation when it was mentioned. As a result, we see Mac thinking about his past and Stella, trying to talk to him. These characters embody pride (Stella) and prejudice (Mac). Mac is recalling the day when he went to the computer courses. It seemed to him that everybody was cleverer than he and that someone would definitely shout at him. This prejudice stopped him from doing what was right. Stella asks Mac about his thoughts and he demonstrates prejudice again, not talking to her. The girl is pride. She doesn’t ask twice and just goes to her room to write the notes on ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Such a guess about the parallels in the two books is proved several chapters later when Stella returns home after watching and discussing a same name series. She fights her pride talking to her father and he leaves his prejudice answering her. As we know, the main characters in Jane Austen’s novel did the same.
To sum up, the allusions play an important role in ‘the Taxi Driver’s daughter’ written by Julia Darling. They have a characterizing function. The writer compares her heroes with the ones from the famous books that people all over the world know. She gives the readers a chance to predict the development of the action and interpret the author’s words themselves. The allusions make the narration brighter and get people to think and analyze what they have just read.
- Literary Devices [Электронный ресурс] // Режим доступа: https://literarydevices.net/allusion/ (дата обращения 07.04.2020).