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The Happiest Day of Your Life Written by Penelope Lively 1978

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"The happiest day of your life"


The Happiest Days of Your Life is an essay, written by Penelope Lively in 1978. The story is about a young boy called Charles. The boy and his parents, are driving to a school called "Edward's Preparatory School" to see if his parents find the school interesting. The headmaster's wife Margaret Spokes welcomes them. After a few minutes, the headmaster arrives. He is talking with the parents, while Margaret Spokes takes Charles off to meet some of the other boys from the school. Charles is left with the boys who are asking him many questions. Afterwards Charles and his parents are leaving the school.


Charles, who is the main character of this story, has black hair, flicked down smooth to his head, a bit too big ears that is jutting out. He is hideously pale, and his clothes is shiny and has creases that shows the newness of it. Charles is quiet, throughout the story he barely speaks a word, even though there is a lot of things that is going through his mind.


The story is told by a 3rd person limited omniscient narrator, from Charles' point of view. The narrator is partially omniscient since some of Charles' feelings are known; A bell goes, somewhere beyond doors and down corridors, and suddenly the children are all gone, clattering away and leaving him there with the heaving floor and the walls that shift and swing (p. 65 l. 7-10). A non-omniscient objective 3rd person narrator would never know that Charles has the feeling that the floor is shaking and the walls is moving. In the end you also hear Charles' thoughts; His face is haggard with anticipation. 'Next term, we'll mash you...' (p. 65 l. 29-30). In this part the narrator knows that Charles is only thinking about that he's going to get bullied next term, which is not objective either. The narrator only knows some of Charles' and his mothers feelings, there's no thoughts or feelings of other persons, and it doesn't seem like the narrator knows what's going to happen either, the only non-objective element of the narrator is that some feelings and thoughts of Charles and his mothers is known, which is why the narrator is limited omniscient.

The main part of the story takes place in St. Edward's Preparatory School, but also in the car on the way to the school and back. There's two different environments in the story, Charles with his parents, and Charles with the kids from lower third. The story could be happening this very moment, which means the time is recent, it could be 20 years ago or it could be today.

The social environment is definitely upper class, which is revealed early in the story; She worked over the headmaster's wife from shoes to hairstyle, pricing and assessing. Shoes old but expensive - Russel and Bromley. Good skirt. Blouse could



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