Any social unit has its own hierarchy. Someone has more authority than others and can have control over a group of people as a leader. But the position being a leader is at times fragile, and the leader can lose control over the group of people. The short story “Buttony” written by Fiona McFarlane and published in 2016 thematizes that very situation.
An authority loses control of a group of people, as the group turns against the leader. Needless to say, the main themes of the short story are authority and control. In the following essay I shall explore how the story revolves around said themes, and in doing so comment on the structure and use of contrasts in the short story.
The short story is about a teacher, Miss Lewis, and her pupils. There are twenty-two pupils, one of them being Miss Lewis’ favorite, Joseph. On the day of the story the children wanted to play a game called Buttony. You win the game by guessing who ends up with the button that Joseph had put in a set of hands, as the rest of the pupils’ eyes were closed.
But in the second round of the game, Joseph hides the button in his mouth rather than in someone’s hand. When the children are unable to find the button, they turn on Miss Lewis, kicking and shouting, looking up her skirt, pulling pins out her hair, searching for the button.