Vorobyova Olesya, RP-123
SEEING PEOPLE OFF by Max BeerbohmHenry Maximilian Beerbohm (London 24 August 1872 – 20 May 1956 Rapallo) was an English essayist, parodist, and caricaturist. He was a popular radio broadcaster, talking about cars, carriages, and music halls for the BBC. His wit is shown often enough in his caricatures but his letters contain a carefully blended humour—a gentle admonishing of the excesses of the day. Beerbohm's best known works include A Christmas Garland (1912), a parody of literary styles, Seven Men (1919) and Zuleika Dobson (1911), a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. This was his only novel, but it was very successful.
The text Seeing People Off tells us about two men: the narrator, who is seeing his friend off. He is confused and embarrassed; he does not know what to tell in this situation, how to express his feelings; and Hubert Le Ros, who is seeing a young American lady off. This man perfectly knows how to behave in this situation. He is speaking, he is crying, he is expressing his feelings freely. The narrator is looking at him with envy. Suddenly, he recognized his old acquaintance in this man. Hubert Le Ros recognized the narrator too. During their conversation, Le Ros tells the narrator about the Anglo-American Social Bureau and about his role in it. Eventually, they agreed that Le Ros would give the narrator a course to teach him to be good seer-off, to express his feelings freely.
This text we can divide into some parts.
The first part is introduction, which tells us about two scenes of farewell. In the same part, we learn some details about Hubert Le Ros. In this part, we can see some stylistic devices. One of them is an inversion in the sentence «and framed in the window of the railway-carriage, was the face of our friend». Author used the inversion to achieve an emotional effect of grief. The second stylistic device is a repetition which is used for the purposes of emphasis. We can find it in the sentence «…but it was as the face of a stranger — a stranger anxious to please, an appealing stranger, an awkward stranger. » In this case, the repetition consists in repeating only one word, so that with each repetition the emotional tension increases.
The second part is a main body, which, in my opinion, begins with the sentence «He seemed, nevertheless, delighted to see me.» In this part, we learn about Le Ros’s life, about his job and about the Anglo-American Social Bureau. Le Ros tells about a kind of activity of Bureau and about the reasons of its formation. Besides, in the sentence «"Many Americans," he said, "cannot afford to keep friends in England.» we can see the author’s irony, because we can use the word “keep” with, for example, animals. We can keep dogs, cats, horses…, but we cannot keep friends - we can have them. In this part, in addition, author uses a syntactical parallelism for the purposes of emphasis on the importance of activity of Bureau: «It prevents them from feeling out of it. It earns them the respect of the guard. It saves them from being despised by their fellow-passengers. »
The climax begins with «"Teach me!" I cried. » There the narrator understood that he would like to be a good seer-off as Le Ros is. They agreed that Le Ros would give him an hour on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The conclusion, in my opinion, consists of only two sentences: « His terms, I confess, are rather high. But I do not grudge the investment.».
The narrator in this story is an assumed personality. The character of the narrator is frequently introduced in fiction. It is a stylistic device, especially favoured by short-story authors (see "A Day's Wait" by Hemingway or "A Friend in Need" by W. S. Maugham), which helps the reader to look at the described events as if "from within". Besides, language in the text is simple. Author used it to show that the text is written for all people, without exception; because the moments of farewell are present at life of each person anyway.
As this text is connected with a railway station and with farewell on it, there are a lot of different special words that refer to this topic: see off, start for, a farewell dinner, sadness, platform, the window of the railway-carriage, traveller, train, the train’s departure, tears, fellow-passengers, boat…
In my opinion, the main idea of this text is that it is important to express our feelings freely. We should know what to say in any situation, not only during farewell. If we do not know how to do it, we can learn.