One of the most important things in life is the relationship between people. These relationships are an important factor in every human being’s life, and we can say that they are directly connected to the quality of life.

The relationships form the basis of further life and affect the atmosphere and spirit. That is why the chemistry between people is so crucial and has such a big influence on the surroundings.

In Elizabeth Baines’s short story Compass And Torch, which is written in 2003, is the broken relationship between a father and a mother the main reason why their child is split between them. This results in an emotional and mental distance between the child and his father.

The boy, who is on a camping trip with his father, is the main character in this short story. He is 8 years old and lives with the mother and her boyfriend, Jim. Even though he is very young, he is totally aware of the fact that Jim is not his biological father. He knows his mother is mad at his father, which just strengthen the will to see him and the persuasion that “Jim is not his dad” (P. 2 L. 35). When we read the text we get the impression that the boy is looking up to his father. The boy is fascinated by the man, which we can see on page 5, line 130: “Is it the kind of compass where the top lifts up, like mine? Asks the boy eagerly, with eyes only for the man”. This quote perfectly shows us this, because he is eagerly and only focused on the response from his father.


When Baines in 2003 wrote this short story, she included a lot of symbolism. The first symbolism we see is in the title of the short story. “Compass And Torch” symbolise the two tools, which should be used to rebuild the father and his son’s relationship. The compass symbolises the guide to a stronger bond between them while the torch symbolises the search and hope for it.