GCSE English Language : Analysis- Tips ‘I’m the King of the Castle’ by Susan Hill.

GCSE English Language students have looked at the opening to Susan Hill’s chilling novel, I’m the King of the Castle recently. The novel makes readers think about their expectations and the way cleverly estranging(defamiliarising) characterisation can create unease immediately.  Techniques should be analysed for the way they animate writing. Similes, for example, bring different things closer, but this closeness may reveal deep psychological secrets, in a seemingly natural, (in this case) conversational way. Here’s an example. The boy Edmund Hopper has been taken to visit his dying grandfather in a ‘sick room’ that smelled ‘sour’. We are not clear where this sensory impression originates until Edmund relates to his father his thoughts about the dying man. ‘All he looks like,’ Edmund Hooper said, ‘Is one of his dead old moths.‘ Edmund’s choice of simile is unsettling. He animates his experience through a language linked to death and creatures associated with repulsion. We might feel the boy is panicked into disgust by fear, or we might feel he is a very literal boy who sees no point in avoiding the direct truth. However, there is something unsettling, even blase and dismissive about the simile. If you read the comparison aloud, you become all too away of the derisory emphasis on the word, ‘All’. The humanity of the dying man has been taken away and all we encounter is the ‘dead old moths.
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