The interpretation of the text from “The Lumber-room”


The text under interpretation is the extract from the story “The Lumber-room” written by Hector Munro. He was a famous British novelist and short story writer. As I have known he was brought up during his childhood, with his elder brother and sister, by a grandmother and two aunts. It seems probable that their stern and unsympathetic methods account for Munro’s strong dislike of anything that smacks of the conventional and the self-righteous. He satirized things that he hated. He also wrote "The Toys of Peace", "The Open Window", "The East Wing" etc.
The main characters of the text are Nicholas, who was a unique, inquisitive and romantic boy with a stretch of imagination, his aunt a dictatorial, biased and uncompromising woman being guardian to Nicholas. The minor characters of the text are Nicholas’s boy-cousin Bobby and girl-cousin.
The story describes one day of little Nicolas who happened to be in disgrace and that’s why to experience draconian regime of his tyrannical aunt. So it is clear that the problem of unsympathetic method of bringing up is raised.
From the third person narration with the elements of description and dialogue we understand that the action of the text takes place in the aunt’s house and takes one day from characters’ life.
In ironic way the author tells us about the event which happened with Nicolas in one morning. So we learn that that morning Nicholas found himself in disgrace. The matter was that he refused to eat his wholesome bread-and-milk because there was a frog in it as Nicholas affirmed. His aunt of course said that there could not possibly be a frog in his meal and that he was not to talk the nonsense. But Nicholas continued to stand his ground describing the appearance of a frog with much detail. The matter was that there really was a frog in Nicholas’s breakfast because he had put it there himself. And the most evident thing for Nicholas was that his aunt erred the matter about which she was absolutely sure. This trifle enlarged on a great length became the reason for Nicholas’s being in disgrace. Here we come across stylistic devices which demonstrate the aunt’s stern methods of bringing up. The hyperbole the sin of taking a frog, the modal verb to be to prove sternness of aunt’s methods. The bookish words coloration, alleged, was in disgrace show the seriousness of child’s trifle for the aunt. And the periphrasis older wiser and better people, the repetition of the word wholesome make the ironic effect. So in ironic way the author demonstrates conditions in which the boy was bringing up.
Further on the author discloses what the aunt’s method was exactly. We learnt that the aunt excluded Nicholas from Jagborough expedition in order to punish him for his “offence”. The author tells us that it was her habit to improvise something of a festival nature in order to impress being at fault child the delights that he had forfeited by his disgraceful conduct. But if all the children sinned collectively they suddenly learned about very interesting event to which they would have been taken that very day but for their disgraceful conduct. So Nicholas’s Cousins went to Jagborough sands while punished Nicholas stayed at home. The vocabulary of military service expedition, offender; bookish word rigorously debarred; juridical term forfeit; repetition of modal verb to be to reinforce the main problem, depict the aunt as the army commander and prove uncompromise of her methods of bringing up. This vocabulary also makes an ironic effect to my mind. The aunts behavior arises smile but at the same time I understand that her methods are really severe and can do a lot of harm to children.
Later the author informs us that against all aunt’s expectations the boy did not shed a tear when the moment for the departure of the expedition arrived. After not coming up to the aunt’s expectations Nicholas was punished again. He was not to go into the gooseberry garden. The aunt was sure that Nicholas was determined to get into the gooseberry garden only because she had told him he was not. That is why she imposed herself a sentry-duty and decided to spend all the time in trivial gardening operations among flowerbeds and shrubberies, whence she could keep a watchful eye on the two doors that led to forbidden paradise. Here we again come across vocabulary of military service operations, sentry-duty, and periphrasis a woman of few ideas, metaphor forbidden paradise which reinforce an ironic effect. We can see that the aunt so sure in her own rightness and took most seriously to Nicholas’s pranks that could not help arising smile.
But what is for Nicholas? I was wondered why he was not upset by his punishment. But he turned out not to be an ordinary boy. He turned out to be a skilled tactician. The author says that he decided to fortify the aunt’s suspicions by making one or two sorties into the gooseberry garden and not trying to evade the aunt’s watchful eye in order to put into execution the plan that had long germinated in his brain. Having fortified her suspicions the boy slipped into the house. By standing on chair he took a fat important-looking key that kept the mysteries of the lumber-room which was opened only for the aunt.
The lumber-room. That was his dream! In lyrical tone the author describes it. We learn that it was a storehouse of unimagined treasure. There were wonderful things that claimed Nicholas’s attention: a piece of framed tapestry, quaint twisted candlesticks in the shape of snakes, a teapot fashioned like a china duck. The most interesting treasure for Nicholas was a tapestry in which a man, dressed in the hunting costume of some remote period, had just transfixed a stag with an arrow was pictured. This tapestry was a living-breathing story for Nicholas, a space for his imagination. He sat and began to dream about the fate of the hunter. He saw four or even galloping wolves that were coming in the hunter’s direction through the wood. He was sitting for many golden minutes revolving the possibilities of the scene. He thought whether the hunter, who was in a tight corner, would be able to cope with coming danger. The boy is pictured as a romantic. Here we come across stylistic devices which disclose boy’s inner life. Here we come across such metaphors as storehouse, living-breathing story; epithets: unimagined treasures, golden minutes, undreamed-of creatures, twisted candlesticks; exclamatory sentences: How dull and shapeless the nursery teapot seemed in comparison! And such birds! To my mind with the help of these stylistic devices it becomes clear that the boys inward differed greatly from the atmosphere that was in the family. The boy’s world was so bright, so warm, so kind in the comparison with the aunt’s world. While reading this extract I wanted to defend Nicholas from his aunt, from her stern, cruel methods of bringing up.
Further on we learn about the incident that happened. Nicholas aunt suddenly began to call him because while she was looking for Nicholas in the gooseberry garden she slipped into the rain-water tank. And Nicholas decided to pay the aunt her own coin. It is the funniest moment in the text because Nicholas taunted her by calling her the Evil One who tempted him. He said the prisoner in the tank that he was not going to yield. There was an unusual sense of luxury in being able to talk to aunt as though one was talking to the Evil One. He walked away, and it was a kitchen-maid who rescued the aunt from the rain-water tank.
Tea that evening was partaken of in a fearsome silence. Arrived cousins did not enjoy themselves. The aunt was angry. And Nicholas thought about the huntsman who would escape the danger. Here the epithets: fearsome silence, punitive expedition - disclose the relationships in the family. They were strain and difficult. To my mind there was not love, friendship, warmth, fun, unity in the family. Every family member was per se. He was absolutely indifferent to other family members. And it was the result of stern methods of bringing up.