The relationship in The Pieces of Silver is one of insecurity and fear, this is because the teacher is hard to approach and talk to. The relationship in The Winter Oak is one of belief and surprise. There is also a reversal in roles, as the teacher becomes the pupil. Karl Sealy wrote The Pieces of Silver and the author of The Winter Oak is Yuri Nagibin. Both of the writers introduce a feel of their own lives into the stories. Barbados, West Indies is where the Pieces of Silver is set. There is an awful lot of poverty in Barbados and you feel as if there is a colonial atmosphere.
This is because the children are treated as if they are under control and in a squad of troops, this is shown by the repetition of words such as “inspection” and “ranks”. This portrays that the children in Barbados grow up with a particular education, almost like the old education from the United Kingdom in the British Empire times. This shows irony as Barbados still use the education system they were introduced with from the British Empire. The writer presents the teacher/pupil relationship in The Pieces of Silver by making Mr Chase – the ‘stout and pompous acting headmaster’ – a hard and forceful man, basically a bully.
The writer portrays an image of unfairness as well as an army style approach to everyday school life. “Again the school master ordered: ‘Shun! ‘ The boys came to attention and the school was ready to begin. ” This evidence suggests that the pupils are obeying to every command the headmaster makes. The word choices also highlight the army perspective when the pupils come to attention just like a squad would do when given a command. When Mr Chase punishes the students he doesn’t do it in the appropriate professional way, but by scrawling an X on the children’s heads.
The professionalism decreases rapidly and conveys the bullying and humiliating image for the reader. “Taking a stick of chalk he scrawled an X upon the forehead of each boy, to the huge delight of the rest of the school. ” By using this quote the writer has an impact on the reader as the reader could be a parent and may not know that this could be happening in schools, they may also strongly disagree with the way the children are being mistreated. The use of the verb ‘scrawled’ encourages this response because it projects that Mr Chase put the ‘X’s on their heads in a disrespectful way which was a very harsh approach.
The teacher/pupil relationship can also be very well presented by the author when Clement stands up to Mr Chase and pays for the rest of the children as well as him. “‘There are eight’ he told the gaping school master. ‘One for each of us. ‘ His voice struck through the silent school, clear and thrilling as a star’s light. ” This proves that Mr Chase has finally been humiliated and there is a reverse of roles in this ironic ending, with Clement humiliating Mr Chase instead of Mr Chase humiliating everyone else. The use of the adjective gaping shows that the headmaster was shocked and didn’t expect Clement to pay for everyone.
It would also have an effect on the reader as they would create an image in their heads of the headmaster’s jaw dropping. The author has also presented a different type of relationship between the pupils and the other teachers. “The teachers drew chairs and stools to their respective desks and sat down. ” This creates an image of obedience. The teachers are obeying everything, and doing everything Mr Chase tells them to do. This could show insecurity because they don’t seem to have enough confidence to stand up and fight for rights on the children’s behalf.
This could show that the relationship between the other teachers and the pupils are poor, they also do not seem that bothered by the mistreatment. They have failed their responsibility to the pupils as well as the students have no respect left for them. The use of the adjective ‘respective’ implies that the teachers are well respected by pupils as well as the acting headmaster. Modern day Russia is also known as the Soviet Union. The Winter Oak is based on this Soviet Union which is an industrialised country.