A Story Dylan Thomas 6/8/2013

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Questions of class-11

This is a story told by a young boy. It presents the adult’s world from a child’s perspective (point of view: dristikod). The boy is living with his uncle (Mr. Thomas) and his aunt. In the first part of the story the boy describes his uncle and aunt using a lot of comparisons (especially similes and metaphors). The uncle is a very big man, but the house is small. The uncle drops a lot of food on his clothes when he eats. He is very loud and has red hair. He has a small shop at the front of his house. The boy’s aunt is small and quiet. He compares her to a mouse and a cat (because she walks quietly). The aunt spends a lot of time cleaning the small house. In the story the aunt becomes angry at her husband because he is going on outing with his friends. She is angry because on the outing her husband will drink a lot of alcohol.

In the next part of the story the boy describes some of the other men who are going on the outing. For example there is Bob the Fiddle who stole the money to pay for the past outing so that he could buy alcohol. There is Mr. Franklyn who is keeping the money for this year’s outing. Will Sentry is following Mr. Franklyn everywhere to make sure this year’s money is not stolen.

Finally the boy describes the outing. He has to go on the outing because his aunt has left and there is no one at home to take care of him. The men take a bus (charabanc) and stop at every public house (bars where alcohol is served and are open only at certain times) and drink alcohol. The boy has to wait outside because children are not allowed into bars. The men go swimming in a river near Porthcawl, but they do not actually arrive at Porthcawl. In the evening they cook dinner in a kerosene stove in a field.

Comprehensive Summary
This story told by a boy presents the adult world as understood by a young boy. The story is the story of his uncle – Uncle Thomas – who means to go outing to Porthcawl, but never made it there.  
    The boy was staying with his uncle and his aunt. His uncle was big and loud and red haired; he almost filled the small house of his as an old buffalo would. His aunt, on the other hand, was small and quiet. She would move from one room to another, like a cat on its soft paws, tending (care for or look after) to various household items like the china dogs, the buffalo, and the mousetraps. She would occasionally squeak like a mouse when in the hayloft (noun a loft over a stable used for storing hay or straw).
    The uncle sat like a giant steam-run dismantled ship behind the counter of the tiny shop at the front of the house, and he breathed like a brass band; in the kitchen he ate his big meal in a noisy manner. When he ate the house appeared to grow smaller. His check waistcoat appeared to be a meadow after having dropped various food items on it. The aunt used to beat him every Saturday after he got drunk. But not before he had placed her on a chair. He was usually beaten with a china dog. On Sundays, the uncle used to sing songs after going high on alcohol.
    One evening when the boy was reading an advertisement for sheepdip (medicine for lice and animal bugs) some of his uncle’s friends, Mr. Benjamin Franklyn, Mr. Weazley, Noah Bowen, and Will Sentry entered the shop. The boy felt their presence inside the house like all of them being in a drawer that smelled of cheese and turps, and twist tobacco and sweet biscuits and snuff (Finely powdered tobacco for sniffing up the nose) and waistcoat. They talked about their annual outing. Mr. Benjamin had accumulated the money for the charabanc and twenty cases of pale ale. Benjamin was followed after by Will Sentry, who was keeping track of the money. Franklyn is disgusted as he feels he is not as trustless as Bob, who had been a treasurer in earlier outings and had embezzled some amount of money to buy himself some drinks. Then they played cards in the shop.
    On Sunday morning, Mr. Franklyn and Will Sentry entered the uncle’s house as the boy and his uncle were eating sardines. They had the list of every member who had paid in full. Uncle Thomas approved the list of the outing-goers after having checked it (read p. 50 for details). The two of them go out. No sooner had they gone than the aunt stood in front of the dresser, with a china dog threatening uncle to go over to her mother’s house if he chose outing over her. The uncle after considerable contemplation (soch) chose the outing. She hit the uncle on the head with the china dog she was holding in her hand after he had lifted her on the chair. For the rest of the week she was quiet and quick.
    On Saturday morning breakfast time the boy’s uncle saw his wife’s familiar note that she wrote every year. He wanted to take the boy with him. He knew he would be opposed to by his friends for having taken his nephew but he nevertheless took him along. The boy stopped outside and they objected to his uncle as presumed. The boy’s share of money wasn’t deposited. They forgot the boy when they talked about others. The charabanc had hardly moved out of the village on the beautiful August morning when they had to return to take Old O. Jones, a regular outing-goer. After Jones got on, Mr. Weazley wanted to go home to take his (false) teeth, but his friends didn’t see its necessity.
    The charabanc pulled up (stopped) outside the Mountain Sheep, where the members, who were welcomed by the landowner with pouncing eyes, rushed out bleating like young sheep into the bar. The boy was made to look after the charabanc so that nobody stole it. Under age boys were not allowed inside bars; it still is a rule in the West. The boy had nothing to do for 45 minutes, which seemed to go by like a very slow cloud, except to look at the lake-eyed cows. On the contrary, his uncle and his friends were dead drunk and were breaking glasses. A French onion-seller bicycled down the road and stopped at the charabanc door, where the boy greeted him before following him down the passage and looked in the bar. He could hardly recognize the members of the outing. They were all red with alcohol and asking questions about their fellow friends and their whereabouts. Bob the Fiddle seemed to lead the drunken session: some were arguing; some were shouting. When Mr. Weazley came to the boy, he moved out and threw stone at the cows. The uncle came out and everyone followed him. They had drunk the bar dry. Mr. Weazley had won a string of onions which the French onion man had raffled in the bar. The charabanc moved out of Mountain Sheep in the direction of other public houses: The Blue Wall, the Sour Grapes, the Shepherd’s Arms, the Bells of Aberdovey: The boy had nothing to do but remember the names where the outing stopped and kept an eye on the charabanc. Every time a public house appeared, it used to be Mr. Weazley who would stop the car for a drink on the pretext (baahana) of bad air (“stop the bus, I’m dying of breathe”) in the charabanc.
    Closing time of public houses meant nothing to the members of the outing. Even when the bar was closed, they would drink behind the locked doors as they did at Druid’s Tap. They even tempered the policeman and made him sing to their beer choral – Asleep in the Deep. Noah would whisper:  “Sssh! the pub is shut.”
The charabanc finally came to a river where they had a merry time. Uncle Thomas sang “Porthcawl!” and Mr. Franklyn tried the Polka dance on the slippery stones, falling twice in the process. All gathered there agreed that the river was better than Porthcawl.
    It was dusk and all the thirty members of the outing were wet and drunk. They were oblivious (not aware) to what was happening around them. They cared little about reaching Porthcawl. In fact Will Sentry said “Who goes there?” to a wild duck flying. They, eventually, stop at Hermit’s Nest for rum to keep out the cold. There was a drunken talk that went between Enoch Davies and a stranger.
    On the way home there was moonlight. Old O. Jones began to cook his supper on a primus stove in the middle of the charabanc, but Mr. Weazley, ever so much the prime instigator, (bring about or initiate) stopped the bus on the excuse that he was dying of breath. All climbed down to the moonlit field carrying out the remaining cases of ale, the primus stove of Old Jones. They sat down in the field and drank and sang while Old O. Jones cooked sausage and mash. The boy began to sleep against his uncle’s large waistcoat. Will Sentry exclaimed, “Who goes there?” to the passing moon.
Board Questions (Long questions haven’t been asked from this text)
What is the reason for which Will Sentry always followed Mr. Franklyn? (2058)
Mr. Franklyn was made the treasurer of the Outing Committee because Bob the Fiddle, who had worked in the same position, had bought drinks for himself with the money that was collected for the outing. In other words, the fund was misappropriated. Will Sentry feared a similar episode could happen again. So, he was always on the heels of Mr. Franklyn. Mr. Franklyn even went to the extent of resigning from his responsibility if Will Sentry continued to be nosy about his duties.
How does the boy, the narrator, look at his uncle and his aunt? (2059)
The narrator was very small and much nicer when he was a young boy. As a young boy, he found his uncle big, loud and red haired man, who filled his little house like an old buffalo. Thomas appeared to be a sweaty giant who breathed like a brass band and ate a lot never keeping his large waistcoat as clean as his wife would have liked it to be. The boy seems to be a bit negative about his aunt. He addresses her as his uncle’s wife rather than addressing her as aunt or auntie. He compares her to a cat as she used to whisk about the rooms on padded paws, cleaning and maintaining household items. Occasionally, she would utter high-pitched sounds like a mouse would do. The aunt wouldn’t allow him and his uncle to play draughts on Sunday. He clearly remembers her posture the day when the uncle had finalized the list of would-be outing-goers. She had stood in front of the dresser, with a china dog in her hand threatening to go home to her mother if he went outing. All said the boy provides a humorous presentation of the contrasting personalities of his uncle and aunt, a loving couple most time of the year except the annual outing.
Describe the relation between Thomas (the boy’s uncle) and his wife. (2060/62/63)

Uncle Thomas was a big, noisy, hulk of a man who ran a shop at the front of his house. He had a voracious appetite too. His wife, on the other hand, was small and quiet like a cat. She would squeak about occasionally like a mouse. The two of them, in spite of having different characters, seem to enjoy a good conjugal (married; bibhahit jiwan) life most of the time other than during the annual outing season, when Uncle Thomas would desert her for a bout of uninhibited (expressing oneself or acting without restraint) drinking stupor (a state of near unconsciousness or insensibility) with his old community friends as they travel on a charabanc to reach Porthcawl. At home, Uncle Thomas is mostly drunk on Saturdays and Sundays so he allows her to beat him on his head with a china dog. He knows he has erred so he would lift her up, under his arm onto a chair in the kitchen. He is not seen to foul-mouth or abuse her. The opposite is almost true! The aunt has, in fact, broken many china cups on Uncle Thomas’s head. During Uncle Thomas’s annual outing, she would go to her mother’s house. However, she would leave a note asking him to eat some eggs she had left in the pantry and to take his shoes off before he went to bed. This account proves that she loved him. She was more of a strict housemaker, who was bothered about neatness, which Uncle Thomas was lagging in very badly. She wouldn’t allow Uncle Thomas to play draughts on Sundays too. This could mainly be for religious sake as Sunday is considered a holy day. Overall, the two shared a comfortable relationship. (You can, alternatively, create a hostile relationship between the two).
The plan was to go to Porthcawl for the outing. Did they ever reach there? Why? (2064)
The plan to reach Porthcawl never actually happened when Uncle Thomas and his thirty friends included went on the annual outing. They had just started from their village and got as far as the Steeplehat when they realized that Old O Jones had been left out, so the charabanc returned to pick him up. That took up some time. The members of the Outing also loved ale and beer and because there were plenty of public houses selling them, they stopped in almost all public houses. At the Mountain Sheep they drank for 45 minutes getting themselves so dead drunk that drinking didn’t stop at other public houses on the way. They even drank behind locked bars. Mr. Weazley would cough and stop the bus as he complained he was dying of breath. And they would all go back. The members on the charabanc would sing and talk of reaching Porthcawl but they didn’t reach there. When it was dusk they settled for rum at Hermit’s Nest to keep themselves warm. Finally, they got out of the charabanc for one last drink session in the open, moon-filled field and drank the remaining cases of beer. They continued to sing and enjoy the evening in the field. Thus, they never made it to Porthcawl.
Give a description of the outing as Thomas would describe it. (2066)
I am Thomas. I and twenty-nine other friends of mine had decided to go to Porthcawl for the outing. We started on Saturday morning. My strict wife warned me that she would stay with her mother if I went to Porthcawl with my friends. I chose Porthcawl. I chose the outing. On the morning of the outing, I found a note she had written and left for me. I found nothing new in it. I took my nephew along with me in spite of the opposition I would receive. As the charabanc stopped by at our place their voices of opposition rang the air but I cared little. Any way, the opposition died as other things took prominence. We had hardly got out of the village, when somebody said that Old O Jones   had been left out behind. We drove back and ushered O Jones in. Mr. Weazley had wanted us to return to his house to get his false teeth but we didn’t see its urgency and need.
The charabanc stopped at The Mountain Sheep. All my friends rushed out like eager sheep to the bar. But, I kept my nephew back to look after the charabanc before I entered the bar. There we spent 45 minutes swilling all the available ale. We came out of it and drove on. We got down at each public house, even locked ones as Mr. Weazley asked the driver to stop to avoid dying of breath. We also had fun in the river as we sang and danced and talked of reaching Porthcawl. When it was dusk, we stopped at Hermit’s Nest for rum to keep out the cold. On the way home, Old Jones prepared supper on the charabanc but Mr. Weazley had better plan. As usual he got us down the bus onto a moonsplashed field, where we sat in a circle and enjoyed the last remaining cases of ale we had carried with us. My nephew was sleeping against my waistcoat. We didn’t reach home before midnight.
Is the story ‘A Story’ a story after all or just a jumble of characters?
The first person narrator, (the boy) in the very first paragraph, brings forth the idea of the story he is narrating not being a story by saying that the outing has no beginning and end, and that it has very little in the middle, but this is a case of false premise and self-doubt. He then gives us hilarious information about his uncle and aunt, who are central to the plot of the story. Indeed, Uncle Thomas is the main character in the story whereas the aunt is a perfect foil to him.
This story is the story of outing, which his uncle and other friends went out regularly.  The setting must be in some village in Wales and as the plot moves forward we come to know that they are going on a charabanc to Porthcawl, which is situated in the west of Wales. The story has a clear beginning where we see Benjamin Franklyn, Will Sentry, Noah Bowen and Mr. Weazley enter Uncle Thomas’ shop and talk about the outing preparation. We know they have collected money for hiring a charabanc and 20 cases of ale. Later we come to know of Uncle Thomas approving the list of the members of outing. The middle of the story is marked when we see the outing goers go from one public house to another – 10 in all – drinking and having fun. They even enjoyed in the river, which they found better than Porthcawl. The climax of the story is reached at the Hermit’s Nest, where the members of the outing drink rum. Thereafter, they return home. This marks the ending, where we see them drinking in the field one last time, and then the implied return to their village with the boy, who is fast asleep on his uncle’s mountainous chest.
There is a big ensemble of characters, but each has his own individuality, and they all help take the story forward and create humour and excitement in the story. Benjamin Franklyn and Will Sentry are yoked together and the former doesn’t seem to like being followed everywhere by Sentry. Similarly, Enoch Davies’ conversation with a stranger in the Hermit’s Nest is slyly hilarious. His wit and presence of mind is remarkable. These kinds of dialogues have added great colour and charm to the story. As well as that, the first person narrative technique applied in the story provides us a fine observation made by a boy as he describes his uncle and other adults with a boy’s language that is sensual, comic and amusing.

Raj Kumar Gautam, Arniko HSS/Merryland College, Biratnagar, rgautam78@yahoo.com. August 07, 2013.

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