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Discuss The Characterisation Of Chris Guthrie In Lewis Grassic Gibbon's "Sunset Song" In Relation To The Main Themes In The Novel.

2540 words - 10 pages

Sunset Song, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, is the story of a young Scottish peasant girl, Chris Guthrie, and her development from childhood to adulthood in the small farming village of Kinraddie.The principal theme of the novel is that of change. This is depicted through the eyes of Chris Guthrie whose stream of consciousness dominates the novel's narrative, although parts of it are written from Kinraddie's perspective, in the community voice.The characterisation of Chris in this novel is successful as an in depth portrayal of conflicting feelings and emotions is given that readers will relate to. Chris herself labels the conflicting sides of her the 'Scottish Chris' and the 'English Chris'. The Scottish Chris loves the farm life and the land and reflects the more emotional, innate side of her character given to her by her mother. The other part of her, the intellectual, or English Chris, is encouraged by her father, loving books and learning and hating the crudeness and ignorance that is the farming life.Despite the Scottish Chris eventually overshadowing the English Chris, it is the 'English' side to her that allows her to rise above the uncompromising gossip of the community: she plays no part in the constant gossip and feels no obligation to the Kirk. Also, perhaps most importantly, she is content with her sexuality, despite bad experiences, while the rest of the community view sex as shameful.It is this independent thoughtfulness which sets her aside from the community. She is more intelligent than them and is more aware of change around her and of consequences it inevitably brings. She is thus able to look beyond the narrowness of farm life yet still feel a powerful, poignant attachment to the land and respect its endurance in the face of change.It is this idea that Gibbon focuses on while constructing the character of Chris in relation to the main theme of change.The structure of the novel plays a significant part in enforcing the idea of the land enduring in relation to Chris. It is structured into three parts: The Unfurrowed Field - The prelude, The Song, and the Unfurrowed field - The Epilude. The Unfurrowed Field is told completely by the community voice and has no focus on any one character just as an actual Unfurrowed Field is not related in any way to farmed land.The Song, the middle section of the novel, is split into four parts named to reflect the cycle of the farming seasons: Ploughing, Drilling, Seedtime and Harvest. At the beginning of each section Chris Guthrie is reflecting on her life over a period of time past. It is this chronology of Chris's life that is titled in the names of each section, symbolically emphasising Chris's closeness to the land, as part of herself.Ploughing is essentially the farmer preparing his land for the crop that he will grow there. This is illustrative of Chris's teenage years, her childhood as her own preparation for later life.Drilling is planting the crops and thus reflects Chris's life when all the...

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