Chemistry (Graham Swift)
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The first section shows the fond relationship the narrator shares with his Grandfather.

This all changes after the seemly unsinkable boat they sail sinks representing a death.

Ralph is an unpleasant figure to the narrator and is presented as being loud and coarse. He seems powerful and large, but is kept under control by the narrator’s mother.

The Grandfather is gradually made more of an outsider despite the fact they live in his house.

The Grandfather has looked after his daughter and Grandson since the narrator’s father died.

Grandfather tries to wind up Ralph by eating slowly and generally being difficult.

The shed is a place of safety and is a mini home.

People change is a clear message of the piece. This can be linked to Grandfather’s experiments with Chemistry as he changes things on the surface, although deeper down they stay the same.

The narrator’s mother seems to decline under the influence of Ralph and alcohol. She seems trapped under his influence.

Ralph is described as being like an animal.

The narrator plans to throw acid in Ralph's face, showing the hatred held for him.

Visited by his father in a dream the narrator feels his mother is to blame for the sinking of his boat and the end of the good relationship they all once had. He also convinces himself that his mother killed his own father. He needs a scapegoat.

This is all prevented by his Grandfather’s death.

Pathetic fallacy is used where it is raining to reflect the mood of the sad scene.

The official verdict was suicide, but the narrator feels there was more to it, blaming his mother for shutting him out of their lives.

The end is a poignant and sad memory of his grandfather catching the boat as he always used to. He is gone but the memory remains.


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