John Boynton Priestley, OM (13 September 1894 – 14 August 1984), known as J.B. Priestley, was an English novelist, playwright and broadcaster. He published 27 novels. Angel Pavement is his novel, published in 1930, it established him as a successful novelist. It is a social panorama of the city of London, seen largely through the eyes of the employees of the firm Twigg & Dersingham, on the first floor of No. 8, Angel Pavement. One of the problems raised in the novel is the problem of upbringing.
The plot of the extract revolves around Mr. Smeeth and his speculations about his own family. The central idea of the extract is misunderstanding between two generations. The author’s message is that many parents could not understand either intentions or system of values of their children. The key of the extract is dramatic. It could be divided into two parts- the “dialogue” part and the “speculations” part.
First part begins with a dialogue, which presents us a picture of an ordinary family: the mother making some dish, the father helps her, their daughter sits and watches them. Everything seems to be fine and clear. But the second part reveals the true situation in that seem-to-be-ordinary family.
It begins with the impatient grunt of Mr. Smeeth, he is upset by his daughter. Once he was fond of her, but now he is irritated. The usage of detached construction “and, for that matter, he was still fond of her” sets some border between her childhood and adolescence. He is not satisfied by her “way of acting, of looking, of talking”, by this enumeration, the author describes almost every situation of their life. Speaking about the language of the author, if we compare it to the language he used in “Dangerous Corner” – it is different. He uses such epithets to draw the portrait of Edna: “smallish girl, greyish-greenish-bluish eyes, prettyish” and they point out that she wasn’t a complete human, according to these epithets she was still in development. The contrastive phrases “being neither child nor an adult, neither dependent nor indepen¬dent” underline the previous statement. Her being at home is characterized by such epithets as “languid and complaining, shrill and resent¬ful, or sullen and tearful” thus making us understand that she was, as the author said in “a very silly, awkward age”. But the situation changed abruptly when she receives a call from her friends, by the simile “This contrast, as sharp as a sword” the author states that her behavior at home and among her friends was very different. She was not interested in the life of her family, instead, being with her friends she “sprang into a vivid personal life of her own, became eager and vivacious”. These numerous epithets reflect her young and hoity-toity nature.
The next paragraph is devoted to the son of Mr. Smeeth – George, who is older than Edna, she is 17 and he is 20. The age gives us a hint that he is probably set his life priorities and somehow more confident in his point of view to his own life. But that is only partially so, according to the author: “He had no desire to stick to anything, to serve somebody faithfully, to work himself steadily up to a good safe position”. So George just tried one thing after another, selling wireless sets, helping some pal in a ga¬rage, but his father believed that even working hard he could not get any positive promotion or results. “The point was, that to George, there was nothing wrong, and his father was well aware of the fact that he could not make him see there was anything wrong. That was the trouble with both his chil¬dren.”- this is the climax of the whole extract, the description of a problem which could not be dealt with, the fact that is inevitable and unavoidable.
Their father, Mr. Smeeth “no longer understood them”, his children a kind of foreigners, because they belong to a younger generation that exists in a dif¬ferent world. Their behavior, their sub-culture, their manners and way or thinking is different from people of older generation. The generation gap problem raised in this very extract is urgent though it exists many and many years. The following inscription was on the pot, found in Mesopotamia, it was made about 3000 BC “This young people are filthy to the core. Young people insidious and neglectful. They will never be like the young ones of the past. Young generation of today will not be able even to preserve our culture.” And this was written by Socrates “Our youth love luxury, they are ill-bred, they taunt the authorities and did not respect the elders. Our children are tyrants, they do not stand up when an elderly man enters the room and they come athwart to their parents.” So the problem is not new and there is only thing that one should do – accept it, and try to undergo it.