The short story ”The happiest days of your life” is written by Penelope Lively. The story takes place in southern England and tells the story of the wealthy Manders family.
Throughout the story, the family visits a popular boarding school to determine whether or not their son Charles should study there.
The parents are excited to send their son to the school. However, Charles is very quiet and sceptical about his parents’ choice of school for him, especially after his short unpleasant experience with the other students.
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“The happiest days of your life” is written in an omniscient third person as seen in this example;
“There is a noise in his ears like rushing water, a torrential din out of which voices boom, blotting each other out so that he cannot always hear the words.” (page 5, line 11).
Although we get the insight of Charles feelings we are also being presented with the thoughts of the mother, and how she is hiding the fact that they are from Finchley.
This is especially common in an omniscient narrator because the reader gets an understanding of various characters.
As mentioned earlier the story takes place in southern England, but more specifically in Sussex at the St Edwards Preparatory School.
The setting can easily be described as a wealthy upper-class environment. This is especially shown when we get a description of Charles outer appearance; “His clothes had the shine and crease of newness.”
(page 3, line 2). And it gets even more clear when the mother is judging the headmaster’s wife; “Shoes old but expensive – Russell and Bromley.
Good skirt. Blouse could be Marks and Sparks – not sure. Real pearls. Super Victorian ring” (page 3, line 12).
This indicates that the outer appearance is very important in the environment and that you easily can be judged by it.