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Chemistry Graham Swift Essay

The Relationships between Chemistry and the End of Somehting

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The Relationships between Chemistry and the End of Somehting


In Chemistry and The End of Something we are told of different
relationships and how they get stronger or in some cases break. Both
authors use different literacy techniques that bring out the best and
worst of the relationships so that we the readers are succumbed to
each twist and turn that the characters themselves experience.

Both stories start with very descriptive language before starting to
explain the personality and relationships of each character. In
Chemistry by Graham Swift, the initial family consists of a mother, a
young boy and his grandpa. This is a very stable relationship in the
beginning considering how the fourth member, the father, died earlier
on. The boy is very happy with the relationship and enjoys the company
of just the three of them. In The End of Something, by Ernest
Hemingway, an American novelist, it is not just a family or people in
the relationship but it is a building. The Horton Bay Mill is loved by
everyone in the community and is close to everyone’s hearts. These
good times soon come to an end in both stories, not willingly, but
this is the case.

In Chemistry we learn how the end of one relationship and the start of
another can change an individual. The boy has always had a good
relationship with his mother and since the death of his father the
bond has grown stronger. He enjoys the solitude of just the three of
them now but it is the introduction of Ralph, his mother’s new love,
which brings a threat to the bond they have. The boy feels Ralph is
interference in their bond. When Ralph is around, he feels his mum
neglects him and his grandpa to keep Ralph happy. The young boy
watches Ralph carefully as he has perceptions that he could harm his
grandpa. He says he thinks Ralph is “Seizing grandpa by the throat and
choking him”. This is very suggestive of the boy’s concern for his
elder and it now seems that the break in his bond with his mother has

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lead to a growing concern for his grandpa. I believe this concern
links in with the boy’s personal fear with Ralph. He thinks he could
be capable of violence against him and is afraid he may hit him: “I
was often afraid he might hit me”. This makes him more apprehensive
and this is why he must look out for his granddad because he is
vulnerable.

The idea of the end of an era leading to a new one is reflected in The
End of Something. The Mill has always been a major part of the
community in Horton Bay and since it has started to become rundown it
has fallen from the spotlight and is no longer looked upon as a
landmark in the area. And just as the mill ends to start a new era, so
does Marjorie. When Marjorie falls for Nick, she gets someone who has
quite a dark side in that he feels he is always right and very
intolerant of Marjorie. We see this relationship from start to end and
the author uses the characters well to bring the relationship to life.
It seems that Marjorie is always trying to be nice and at the start it
works well and the couple are getting on well. However as the
relationship prolongs we start to see tension between the two and it
seems Marjorie will do anything to salvage the relationship and keep
Nick happy. For example she is always trying to make conversation with
Nick. However the outcome is always the same: Nick never wants to
carry on a conversation and there are awkward moments of tension
between the pair. Later on we see Marjorie is willing to forget her
roots to keep nick happy. She forgets about the mill and takes on
hobbies that Nick likes. For example she goes fishing with Nick, still
trying to initiate conversation while doing so. She still feels the
need to “tread carefully” though, content on not upsetting Nick or the
fish. However, her best efforts don’t pay off and as the relationship
comes to an end the tension is ever clearer. Marjorie acknowledges his
need for attention and authority by trying to involve him in
conversation, keeping him happy. It gets to the point though, were
Marjorie anticipates that Nick will not respond or interact and it
soon becomes clear that this relationship is over.

Both stories involve people who form new relationships to get over the
hurt of one that has ended. In Chemistry, the death of the father
signifies the end of that relationship and she is immediately on the
rebound with Ralph. In The End of Something it is the demise of the
mill that ends that “relationship” that Marjorie had that prompts a
new relationship with Nick. This seems fine at the start of things but
it soon becomes clear that this will not take away the memories of the
bond that was always there. In Chemistry, the mother sacrifices her
strong bond with her son for the sake of her new lover Ralph. In The
End of Something Marjorie forgets her roots for her boyfriend Nick.
Both relationships end in upset and it is quite apparent that nothing
can replace the bonds they once had with others.

The authors take us on these roller coaster rides and we the readers
can’t help but be caught up in the emotion of each twist and turn. The
way in which they portray each argument or each moment of tension
forces the reader to feel part of the story and personally, I felt
quite close to the characters involved.



The first section shows the fond relationship the narrator shares with his Grandfather.

This all changes after the seemly unsinkable boat they sail sinks representing a death.

Ralph is an unpleasant figure to the narrator and is presented as being loud and coarse. He seems powerful and large, but is kept under control by the narrator’s mother.

The Grandfather is gradually made more of an outsider despite the fact they live in his house.

The Grandfather has looked after hisdaughter and Grandson since the narrator’s father died.

Grandfather tries to wind up Ralph by eating slowly and generally being difficult.

The shed is a place of safety and is a mini home.

People change is a clear message of the piece. This can be linked to Grandfather’s experiments with Chemistry as he changes things on the surface, although deeper down they stay the same.

The narrator’s mother seems to decline under the influence of Ralph and alcohol. She seems trapped under his influence.

Ralph is described as being like an animal.

The narrator plans to throw acid in Ralph's face, showing the hatred held for him.

Visited by his father in a dream the narrator feels his mother is to blame for the sinking of his boat and the end of the good relationship they all once had. He also convinces himself that his mother killed his own father. He needs a scapegoat.

This is all prevented by his Grandfather’s death.

Pathetic fallacy is used where it is raining to reflect the mood of the sad scene.

The official verdict was suicide, but the narrator feels there was more to it, blaming his mother for shutting him out of their lives.

The end is a poignant and sad memory of his grandfather catching the boat as he always used to. He is gone but the memory remains.