The short story by Anna Hope is about a nineteen-year-old girl named Ellie. We’re introduced to Ellie while she is lying in her bed, just awoken from what seems to have been a wild night out. It is Monday, which means she went out a Sunday, which for many people is an unusual day to go party. The first sentence in the short story goes like this: ‘It is dark, but the wrong dark. ’ Ellie likes the dark, but she senses that it is the wrong kind of dark. A third person narrator tells the story, but the narrator is aware of Ellie, her feelings and thoughts.
We never hear the narrator saying ‘I’, because the narrator does not exist. The narrator is like a fly on the wall, all-knowing. The narrator is explicit from the story. The wrong dark refers not only to, that it is probably dark in her room because her curtains are closed and it is daylight outside, but to her state of mind and that Ellie is aware of that there is something wrong in her life. But she, at this point, is not aware of what is wrong. But she can sense that something is. Ellie reaches for her phone and finds out that the clock is half-past four. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. ’ That is what Ellie is thinking, the narrator, whom knows, tells us. Ellie suddenly becomes aware of, that she has an essay due to the next day. An essay she already had extended, and we’re told that she has received a letter from the course she is taking, at the UCL, explaining that she will be expelled from the course if she does not hand over this essay. This and other facts like her cursing, doing drugs, going out on Sundays and her messy room all gives us the impression that this is a stressed girl, whom is definitely not feeling at peace.
She goes out to buy ink for her printer, wearing tracksuit bottoms, a hoody and a hat. We’re not told what kind of hat it is, but that is not important. Ellie uses the hat for imprisoning her mind, which later will be set free. She will later walk down different paths than she has done up till now. But as for now she is still caged in a reality, which is not right for her, she is tangled up in some sort of a drug abuse and carelessness towards school and her own well being. As she is too late for the student shop at the UCL quad, she heads for the inner city to buy her ink.
The narrator tells us that there people moving in London, with purpose and meaning, and Ellie is one of them. This is Ellie not aware of. Ellie finds a leather glove rammed down a spike on an iron rail. The leather glove, which is formed in a way that makes the middle finger point out in the air, amuses Ellie. She likes this ‘middle finger attitude’ and decides that she will be free and not worry about the essay. Ironically this incident will mean a crucial turning point for Ellie, which will make her lose her ‘middle finger attitude’ towards her life.
This incident will lead Ellie into the British Museum, where she will suddenly get provoked by a provocative exhibition, showing lots of pills in cases under a sign saying ‘Living and Dying’. At this point she has taken off her hat, which has made her vulnerable to other inputs, her mind is no longer closed. Ellie is very affected by the exhibition and she is not ready to die, and no longer wants to stay at the exhibition because it reminds her of ‘the wrong dark’. A point in her life she is now trying to get away from.
Ellie wants to live and she knows that the road she has taken so far will not get her far in life. After this we’re told that she does not want to write an essay and she will never do coke again. All she wants to do is to walk, but as the story says she is walking towards the heart of the city. What Ellie again does not know is that she is walking towards the heart of herself, and she is about to find herself. Just as Ellie is talking about sucking the pith from life, a door to a shop opens and casts light on the street. It is now getting dark.
Ellie walks into this store and in it she finds some stones, which suddenly remind her of her mother. Her mother once gave her a stone like this, and the mother said that the stone was meant for protecting Ellie. Ellie had not appreciated this, and she regrets that now. Ellie suddenly misses her mother, whom she earlier cursed because it was Ellie’s mothers fault that she is now taking this literature course. But now Ellie does not feel bad about the course, she has received energy and feels happy. She is no longer imprisoned by stress and carelessness.
She has grown up and found out that she can appreciate things, and she decides to go do her essay. She wants to prove to her mother that she can do it. The city is used as a reflection of Ellie and where she is in her development. She starts in a smelly and messy apartment. You can almost sense the heavy and thick smelling atmosphere in the apartment. Just as the apartment Ellie is also living in somewhat of a fog, having no control over her life. When Ellie goes to the museum she leaves her old self at the museum, which is the right place to do it, since a museum is place for antiques and old stuff.
And as Ellie is moving towards the centre/heart of the city she is also moving towards the centre/heart of herself. But all this happens because of random incidents, such as the leather glove. Had she never seen the leather glove, she may never have gone into the museum and realized things. Had that exact exhibition not been at the museum, she might still have been careless. You could argue about that it is her destiny, but I do not believe in destiny. I think it is an example of how random incidents, which you are not in control of, can affect your life a lot.
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