How does the author Michael Frayn discuss the theme of growing up?
The theme of growing up is just one of many in the novel Spies. Frayn shows us Keith and Stephen?s coming of age throughout the book. There are numerous ways in which Frayn chooses to illustrate how the two young boys mature within their sexuality, maturity and general understanding in various ways. The reader is given a deep insight on the hardships, excitement and incomprehensions of childhood and how the boys mature to conquer it, making the reader in return remember similar aspects of their childhood. You become drawn in by the cleverly conceived and intricately executed storyline. It becomes clear when the boys begin to grow up as time goes on as the secrets are slowly revealed just like uncovering the layers of a ?Russian doll?.
Stephen?s personal growth is quite remarkable. His outlook on life and general interactions with other characters becomes revolutionized. At the beginning of the story he is always inferior in comparison to Keith and was always seen as more of Keith?s follower. This is obvious as we are told ?without Keith there to tell Stephen what to think, he?d stop thinking at all?. There prominence is mirrored by the state of their possessions such as their toys. Their toy car was ?designed by Keith? but he had allowed Stephen to also be ?actively involved?. It was not created from Keith?s ample toy supply but from bits of ?Stephen?s broken ones in his muddled toy cupboard?. The use of these toys is a representation of their owners and how they are portrayed in society and among their selves.
In contrast to this, later in the novel Stephen is less obedient of Keith and breaks his rule about bringing anyone into their secret hideout or the secret box and what lies inside. When he allows Barbara Berill in and she manages to get her hands on the secret letter that she ?slipped out of Stephen?s fingers? he responds by ?thrashing about like a beached fish? in an attempt to recover it while urgently bellowing ?NO?. He realises that if he never brought her here, this would have never happened, but thus is a result of his actions and his newly formed daring and adventurous personality.
During his time with Barbara, in a shock to the audience, Stephen experiences his first kiss with her as ?she leans forward? towards his lips and thus consequently taking a few steps further out of childhood and establishing maturity with his new found taste for the opposite sex and participation in sexual activity. The thought of Stephen being involved with these kinds of doings during the earlier stages of the book would have been purposterous. A little after that he experiences his first cigarette which is iconic for adult life and denotes maturity. The thought of an under aged minor smoking is seen as an attempt to enter early adulthood and just sheer disobedience and lack of respect for the law and his parents wishes. Yet another way in which he is growing up and...