However, although Gregory was treated badly and seen as stupid, and even though he began to believe it himself, he still tried his hardest to act as he thought he should. ¦ he was not a cross lad, he was patient and good natured and would try to do a kind turn for anyone. It is after this description of the way in which Gregory was brought up that we are led into the main event of the story. The narrator tells of the differences between himself and his brother, and then launches into a tale of how, one night he was sent on an errand. It is winter, and on the way back, the boy loses his way.
The reader feels the panic of the narrator, as he realises he is lost and that his shouts are achieving nothing. Only the noiseless, pitiless snow kept falling thicker, thicker faster, faster! I was growing numb and sleepy. Here, the reader really does feel the tension that is building up, the feeling of the snow enclosing, engulfing the narrator until he can hardly breathe. This is also when we realise that the narrator knows how much Aunt Fanny adores him. He asks whether this was to be the end of all her cares for him and describes how his short life passed before him, much like a vivid dream.
However, just as things are looking really desperate, the narrator hears a cry. He thinks that it must be some mocking spirit of the Fells but then he realises it is Lassie, his brothers devoted collie. At this point, the reader also breathes a sigh of relief, as we also feel the release as the moment of panic comes to an end. We are then left wondering will Lassie come to his rescue? Will the narrator be able to yell for help? These questions are soon answered, as the narrator raises his voice and cries out for the dog.
The dog does come, but not without hesitation.¦ with her intelligent, apprehensive eyes, as if fearing lest I might greet her with a blow, as I had done oftentimes before. This is the first indication we get that the dog has been mistreated perhaps as a knock on effect of the families attitude towards Gregory. Gregory himself soon follows the dog proving that even though he has been shunned compared to his older brother, Gregory is there for him in his hour of need. The narrator shows the first real affection towards Gregory that we have seen so far, and falls upon him, clinging to him for dear life.
And that is the really ironic part of this story there is a definite divide between these brothers, put there by the father and Aunt since birth, but when it comes to the crunch, ones life depends on the other ultimately. Again, the suspense is built up here, as the brothers try to find their way home through the snow and the dark. The narrator begins to feel a deadly fatal sleep steeling over him, and seems almost ready to give up his fight for survival. Sleep I would, were it only for five minutes. If death were to be the consequence, sleep I would.
However, Gregory puts his brothers safety over his own and shelters his brother by rolling him in his maud and making him lie beside a rock. At this, the narrator says; I felt him unkind thus to keep me from slumber. This phrase shows that the divide between the two brothers is still present, be it only on the narrators side. Gregory is putting his heart and soul into saving his younger brother, and yet the narrator still thinks Gregory is unkind. However, it is Lassie that eventually saves the day. Hie thee Lassie, hie thee home! And the white faced, ill favoured brute was off like a shot in the darkness.
This shows the narrator has similar feelings towards the dog as he does his brother he finds it hard to let go of his hate and just accept and be grateful for the help. He uses the terms brute and ill favoured, both of which associate negative feelings towards the dog. In these fraught moments, the brothers seem to come together and begin to feel regret for the bond that might have been between them. Gregory seems to feel this especially, as he tells the narrator. This is the only time that either of them mentions the final moments that they spent with their dying mother, and that intimate moment in which she joined their hands.
She put thy small, wee hand in mine I reckon she sees us now; and belike we shall soon be with her. At this point, the narrator finally succumbs to the sleep that has been threatening to overcome him. When he awakes, his first word is Gregory? This is when we find out that Gregory has died. This has a sad irony however, as, by saying his name when he first woke up, the narrator has finally acknowledged his and Gregorys relationship. However, he has only managed to acknowledge it once Gregory has died, and there is a sense of loss here, a sad sense of what might have been.
It has taken a crisis to make him realise what they could have had, and that single word says it all. The father echoes this sentiment as well. At the beginning of the story he mentions leaving his land to the narrator, which is when I raised the question of him only wanting an heir. The way he feels about Gregory now therefore becomes clear when he says; I would have given him half my land I would have blessed him as my son oh God! I would have knelt at his feet and asked him to forgive my hardness of heart. The father is regretting the way that he treated Gregory, and, like the narrator, it is ironic that he can only do it in death.
Right at the end of the story we are told what I think are the most heart wrenching lines yet. I was covered over with my brothers plaid, and his thick shepherds coat was carefully wrapped around my feet. He was in his shirt sleeves his arm thrown over me a quiet smile (he had hardly ever smiled in life) upon his still, cold, face. What makes a hero? In my opinion, Gregory was exactly what makes a hero. He had been undermined and insulted for all of his life by his supposed family, and yet when it came to the penultimate moment, he threw caution to the wind, totally disregarded his own life and thought only of saving his brother.
The fact that he was smiling in death when he never smiled in life shows that he did do that out of the goodness of his heart, and that he felt good as a result of it. Whereas in the Werewolf the child did what she did for her own gain, Gregory had everybodys well being bar his own in mind when he did that final, heroic action. Gregory is a typical hero, sacrificing his own life for another, and he plays his part to perfection. The third and final story that I am going to discuss is The Sextons Hero, also by Elizabeth Gaskell.
Like Half Brothers, this title also sets us up with expectations we expect to find a hero at the end of it. Unlike Werewolf, but in a similar way to Half Brothers, this story is set in a definite location to begin with a grassy churchyard. It is a picturesque, and has a view that the narrator cannot speak of adequately There is lots of imagery and description in the first paragraph, description which makes us feel that we are really there, drinking in the scenery as well. ¦ long flower laden branches of the climbing rose tree,
trained against the inner side. Beyond, lay meadow green and mountain grey, and the blue dazzle of Morecambe Bay. It is not long before we are introduced to the first solid character a man by the name of Jeremy. We dont however, find out the name of the narrator, although he does strike up the first conversation. How would you then define a hero? This links back with the title the introduction of the theme of a hero is almost immediate in this story, whereas in the other two it was subtler.
Jeremy answers this question with what most of us would assume to be a hero one who acts up to the highest idea of duty that he has been able to form, no matter at what sacrifice. They go on to discuss different types of heroes, including military heroes. Then the two are startled by a third voice, and the Sexton named in the title is introduced. The narrator says that at first they had noticed the Sexton, but not taken much notice of him, as if he were one of the headstones. This would indicate a difference in class the Sexton was not worthy of their notice to begin with.
The Sexton appears to have been listening to their conversation, and he offers his own opinion. I think youd both have given in to thinking Gilbert Dawson a hero. At any rate¦ I have reason to think him so. This first speech from the Sexton immediately intrigues the reader. Who is Gilbert Dawson, and why does the Sexton class him as a hero? Whilst Jeremy seems eager to hear what the Sexton has to say, the narrator takes a different view, confiding in the reader that he felt impatient at the interruption.
This is a gentle lead into the Sextons story instead of launching directly into it as she could have done, Gaskell coaxes the reader in, making us want to fid out more. It is at this point that the Sexton begins to tell his story. Although the narration stays the same, the story is related exactly as the Sexton is telling it, and so the source of the story thus becomes the Sexton. The Sexton begins by telling of the location of his story Lindal, and describing where it is located. He then tells how he had been there not two years when Gilbert Dawson came along.
He were about as strapping a chap as I was and, as we were like in the same trade we were thrown together and took mightily to each other. The Sexton at first tried to be equal with Gilbert, but then he realised that Gilbert fancied a girl that the Sexton dearly loved. This girl is described to us, and it is clear that the Sexton feels deeply for her. He realises that Letty liked Gilbert in return, and strong emotion comes across when the Sexton tells of this. Lord God forgive me! How I hated that man!
This is very to the point, and adds the already religious references that we have had so far the churchyard, the Sexton and now the references to God. We are told how the Sexton challenged Gilbert to a fight, and Gilbert did the very thing that was to be his downfall he refused to fight. Instead, he asked pardon for whatever he had done, and said that he would never fight. This is the point in the story at which things start to go downhill for Gilbert. The Sexton scorns Gilbert for this, and says; I was so full of scorn at his cowardliness that I was vexed Id given him a second chance.
But Gilbert still shows himself to be noble he stands his ground and sticks to his guns. I cannot fight, because I think it is wrong to quarrel and use violence. Gilbert is mocked and teased for this, not just by the Sexton but by the other villagers as well. Gilbert is called a mothers moppet, a pretty dear and effectively a wimp, all because he stood up for what he believed in. As the Sexton says, such a thing as refusing to fight had never been heard of afore at Lindal, and once the villagers got over the shock the shunned Gilbert as well.
The Sexton comes across Letty soon after this. She confesses that she loves Gilbert, and that she had begged him to fight because she could not bear to see him scorned in this way. But still Gilbert refused; even at the request of the woman he loved. This part of the story is cleverly set up so that the reader is intrigued and wants to read on. There is a mention of Gilberts wild death struggle, which, while giving away the ending wets the appetite of the reader, almost compelling.