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Presentation on theme: "ON HER KNEES – TIM WINTON"— Presentation transcript:


2 SETTING AND PLOT The setting is not very important and the story is more theme centric The story is presented in the form of a flashback It seems to be set in modern times i.e. vacuum cleaner, cars etc. The story is set in 3 main areas: Victor and Carol’s house Their Car The mistress’s house

3 Carol LANG - Major AND ROUNDED Character
She was trying hard to support her family after her husband ‘bolted’ She wanted her son to go to university as she felt education was very important. This was her motivation to work doubly hard and earn more money She felt helpless as she couldn’t do much to prove her innocence. “..these people, they can say anything. You can’t fight back.” She was quite old and thin. Her hands were rough due to all the cleaning and her son mentions he could see the veins pop out on her legs. The author has described her in an indirect manner. The main modes of conveying information used by the author are by: a) mentioning it through conversation; b) showing it through her actions and c) by communicating it through the thoughts and feelings of her son. Also by stating her beliefs, he has highlighted many of her personality traits

4 Carol LANG - Major AND ROUNDED character
TRAIT EXAMPLE Devoted to her family Cleaned homes to support her family and send her son to university Proud of working She never thought cleaning houses was beneath her even though her previous job was better Meticulous She surveyed the house before leaving to ensure everything was back in its place Honest She left the earrings even though she could have easily taken them; even though it was her last day on the job, she did her work properly

TRAIT EXAMPLE Emotionally strong She did not like to show her weaknesses; she cried under a tree so no one would hear her Good at her job Although she was sacked once, she had the liberty to change jobs as she had so many offers; she was a domestic benchmark Cautious She was careful when she was driving Dignified Does not take the money even though it is her right Helpless She is helpless to protest the injustice against her but it does not weigh her down

Victor is a 20 year old law student He is basically a caring person and even though he refuses to help her many times, he felt guilty for it. He is strongly against the wealthy/ affluent/ affluence as he feels they underestimate the poorer classes and over-exploit (his mother). He refers to them as the “worst payers” and “biggest slobs” The author has also described Victor in an in direct manner through the communication between him and his mother, his actions and his thoughts

TRAIT EXAMPLE Independent Wanted to get a part time job to pay for his university tuition Selfish Hated going to work with his mother as he thought it was demeaning Persistent/ Stubborn He keeps arguing with his mother about returning to the job for a week Vigilant He is always aware of his surroundings; he notices every minute detail Helpless Victor feels helpless at the injustice done to his mother and is angered by it

She seems to be an unforgiving person mainly because she has sacked Carol without any evidence over her missing earrings even though she knows Carol is highly recommended and something like this has never occurred before. She has also not bothered to look for her earrings before she accused Carol which shows she is a) not concerned about how Carol might feel if she were unjustly accused (which she was) and b) unable to entertain the thought that she herself might have lost them c) lazy! She seems to read a lot as her library is full of books on human rights and equality and also seems to be a teacher/ lecturer at a college as there were many marked assignments on her desk. Yet knowing as much as she does, does not extend the courtesy to Carol of defending herself and is obviously not doing as she teaches or knows – the disparity between preaching and doing As the character never makes an appearance during the story, there is no direct description. The author again uses conversation between Victor and Carol as well as the description of her house to give us clues about her personality

9 POINT OF VIEW Victor is the narrator of the story
He is speaking of his own experiences therefore the story is written in first person He is narrating the story of a time when his hard working mother is accused of stealing a pair of gold earrings and fired from her job

10 Mood The mood of the story is one of helplessness and hopelessness. (Carol cannot prove her innocence) the mood is set right from the beginning of the story starting from the title Phrases used by Victor such as “they took her for granted” and to chip her rates down” show that Carol was being exploited Despair is evident when Carol cries silently and with the physical description of her Her hands were “ravaged” and “veins stood out in her calves” Also when Victor states the “very light of day pouring out through her limbs” suggests Carol was very thin and weak

11 Themes Pride and dignity of the working class:
Even though Carol works as a house maid, she still maintains her dignity. She does not do anything which may cause her to fall in her eyes. She would rather leave the job than apologize for a mistake she has not made. She can afford to do this as she is taken as a domestic benchmark, and thus has many more offers waiting in line for her services Bond between mother and son: The entire story in fact revolves around the relationship of the mother and the son. The mother has taken up a low, demeaning job just to support her family and send her son to university. The son is trying as much as possible to help his mother and joins her at work sometimes even though he hates going

12 Themes Exploitation of the helpless:
In this story Carol is being exploited by every person, whose house she works in. Victor repeatedly mentions that she is being underpaid and being made to work more and more. He refers to them as “the worst payers.” Also one of the most significant lines in the story which brings this out very strongly is “..these people, they can say anything. You can’t fight back.” Affluence: Victor and Carol have very strong views on affluence/ wealthy people – their behaviour and lifestyles – which is in stark contrast to the bond between Carol and Victor and Carol’s dignity Dignity: The difference in Carol’s idea of dignity (i.e. hard work, meticulousness and honesty are dignified) and Victor’s perception of dignity (i.e. he felt physical labour was demeaning therefore not dignified)

The title is suitable to the story:  The story is based on rich and poor, one person is rich who has lost the earrings and the person who was blamed was poor  The poor lady used to work as a maid, thus she was on her knees at many points during her job.  The lady ,Carol Lang, was helpless. So all this can suggest why was the story named ON HER KNEES

The figurative meaning however, is of greater importance while conveying the theme. The title symbolizes the helplessness. The phrase on your knees usually means that your are weak and defeated. Also it signifies that you have no strength or power left to do anything more. In this story too, Carol is being exploited and being blamed for something she has not done. Just because she is poor she cannot say anything to defend herself. She knows that she is not wrong but still she must bow down before her mistress as she is helpless

15 AUTHOR’s PURPOSE The author uses the story to give us many messages
To have self confidence/ strength (like Carol, who keeps doing her work without thinking much about the injustice done to her) to not focus on an injustice to yourself Having a high amount of self-respect, and not to be afraid to show it. To balances reputation and dignity. The author points out the bitter fact of life how easy it is to blame the poor The helpless too have preconceived notions about the affluent and affluence

16 STUDY QUESTIONS Re-read the story “On Her Knees” by Tim Winton. Explore how the author creates the feeling of helplessness and despair. Explore the ways in which the author shows the understanding relationship between the mother and son. Imagine you are the mistress, write your reasons for firing Carol, also mention whether you think your action was right or wrong.

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