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The Happiest Days of Your Life

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The happiest days of your life

Everybody has had the experience to be in a place where they don’t feel like they belong. Sometimes you have to be there because other people have told you to, and sometimes you are there to make other people happy. Most of the time your mother has great intentions for you, and want you to feel happy. But sometimes it feels like your mother do something for you, to make herself happy. This is the two scenarios in the short story “the happiest days of your life” written by Penelope Lively in 1978. This story is a great example of how parent’s intentions, can end up being a disaster for their child, and how people sometimes can be in a place they don’t want to, just to make other people feel happy. In the story we meet the boy Charles, and his parents. Charles mother want Charles to start on a boarding school, but Charles don’t want to. Charles’ mother thinks more about herself, than she thinks of Charles. She is more concerned about her own image, and other people’s perceptions of her. Most parents want their kids to start in a school, because the kids want to, but these parents want Charles to start on this boarding school, because they will get a higher social status, by letting him start there. She is very ambitious, class-conscious and snobbish. As a result of this, the relationship between Charles and his mother is quite strange, because she is sending her child to a boarding school, even though Charles doesn’t want to. Charles’ mother love him, but she is using him as a remedy to get a higher social status. She doesn’t seem very concerned about her kid, and is patronizing him. For example, “He looks so hideously pale, compared to those boys we saw outside.”

The title is “the happiest day of your life”, and that is meant ironically, because Charles when he is out on St. Edward preparatory school. But on the other hand it is a very happy day for his mother. She may now feel like she has completed her image.

The story is told in third person omniscient narrator, from Charles’ point of view. This makes the story entertaining to read, because the author is like a fly on the wall. For example, we are hearing about how nervous the boy is, and how he just doesn’t want to go to the boarding school, but we also hear it from the mother’s point of view. It makes it easier for us, to know what is really going on, when we hear the story from different sides.

The story is a great example of how other people’s intentions, can end up being a disaster for you, and how other people’s wishes can determine your wishes. In this story we also see the case, that even though you mother most of the time has great intentions for you, she sometimes does something to make herself happy, instead of you.

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