This the construction of the story and

This text was written by Graham Greene, an English novelist whose novels and stories treat life’s moral ambiguities in the context of contemporary political and historical settings. In ‘I spy’, Graham Greene tells the story of a 12 year old boy called Charlie Stowe who stays up at night and sneeks out of his room to go to his father’s cigarette shop. We find out at the end of the story that his father is in fact a spy and that he is being arrested. This is a story about morality, family relationships and how events, both things seen and unseen can turn a boy into a man. I shall first discuss the effects of the construction of the story and how the novelist creates builds up the story to create suspense. I shall then analyse the narrative voice and how this voice depicts the characters and tells of things both directly and indirectly. Finally, I will comment on the themes of the story, morality, family relationships and the rite of passage of a boy becoming a man.
The story starts in medias res and therefore the exposition is rather vague. We are not really told anything about the characters or the settings at the beginning of the story; we are thrust straight into the action. It is only as the story goes on that the reader learns more about Charlie and his family. We are led to believe that the action takes place during the First World War, because the narrator makes use of words and objects that belong to that period. For example, he mentions that “a search-light passes across the sky, lighting the banks of cloud and probing the dark spaces between, seeking enemy airships.” The story then continues and suspense is built up as the narrator counts Charlie going into his father’s tobacconist and hiding. The narrator uses foreshadowing but he does not tell us exactly what will occur. Instead, he uses hints to suggest what the coming events will be and what kind of atmosphere will reign. The narrator states, “Charlie Stowe waited until he heard his mother snore before he got out of bed. … Charlie Stowe was frightened.” By describing Charlie’s waiting and fears, the narrator build suspense and tension about an event that is being foreshadowed. The use of the past tense here to describe Charlie Stowe’s feelings makes the reader aware that the narrator knows what is going to happen. The lexical field of fear dominates the text and the author uses terms such as ‘in despair”, “no sense of safety”. Similarly, the way in which the narrator describes Charlie when he “clenched his fingers” and the way in which the tobacconist is described as being “too dark to see his way” in only increases the suspense. This progression leads to the climax of the story, when his father comes into the shop with what we are led to believe are policemen. This is the point in the story that the narrator leads up to and it is this event that leads to the resolution which takes the form of Charlie Stowe feeling sympathy towards his father and being changed by both his father’s and his own actions. He is able to reflect on how he has been shaped by this experience and he goes back to his “bed”, where he was at the beginning of the story and unlike at the beginning, he now falls asleep.
The structure of the story is here inextricably linked to the choice of the narrative voice. This third person narrator is omniscient and therefore knows everything about the characters, the situation and what will happen. The narrator here is able to set the atmosphere through the description of the Charlie’s feelings and emotions. This is also done through the description