The extract under consideration comes from a story «Anthony In The Blue Alsatia», written by Eleanor Farjeon.
Eleanor Farjeon (13 February 1881 – 5 June 1965) was an English author of children's stories and plays, poetry, biography, history and satire. She won many literary awards and the prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award for children's literature is presented annually in her memory by the Children's Book Circle, a society of publishers.
Her most well-known works are: Faithful Jenny Dove and Other Tales (1925), Kaleidoscope (1928), A Nursery in the Nineties (1935) (autobiography), One Foot in Fairyland: Sixteen Tales (1938), Kings and Queens (1940) (poetry, written with her brother Herbert Farjeon), The New Book of Days (1941), Brave Old Woman (1941).
The extract shows the great difference between people's lifestyle in the city and in the country. While reading the morning newspaper Anthony imagines the beauty of the nature of Alsatia and the people who live there. He compares it with each other and makes a choice, to which world does he belong.
The basic theme of the story is to show two worlds of imaginary and real life and to underline the most strikingly different features. The main idea of the text is that despite of the «torrents of the world's activity», people shouldn't become uncapable for admiring the nature's beauty and all the freshness and sweetness of the life. They must «house the butterfly and not brush off its bloom».
The events in the following passage are taking placein two different but parallel worlds: in and out the train. The boy is reading the newspaper in the stuffy carriage of the train, which has stopped due to some unknown reasons, and while doing that he imagines that place where beautiful and gay «damsels in white sunbonnets» are making hay and laughing, where «beyond the meadow of flowers and haymakers lay the blue mountains» with a blue smoke...
The time doesn't mentioned and it's unimportant. The text is written in a very interesting way. The exposition presents us a boy, who is reading a newspaper and he's bored with those «world's activities» but is attached in the world behind the glass, in beautiful nature. The beginning of the story takes place, when he finds a catchy paragraph about the Minor Mystery and his «eye roves no more». After some thoughts and comparisons the nature to Heavens begins the plot development, where the green and sweet meadows are described, depicted peacefull peasants, who are working and enjoing their lives... and busy people, whoare sitting in the train and too blind to do the same, they can't see all this beauty, they are absorbed with their problems and desires.
At first it is hard to distinguish the type of presentation. At the beginning of the story it is a 3rd person narrative, but in the middle of it we can see the monologues of our character (1st person narrative).
The main characteris a boy named Anthony. He is rather interesting personality with a profound sense of reality and limitless imagination. He is reading a newspaper, that's why he is probably wants to go in leg with the news, but from the first lines it's clearly understood, that the things he reads are boring for him. The author uses enumeration to show it and how the boy skip that information:
«...Home Rails, Questions in the House and Three-Piece Suits...».
The case of irony is present here, when the narrator says that those facts are «vital», because it can't be so for a young boy. He sees the world in his way, he has his own values, that's why those facts might be interesting and import in to the world, but «by different orders of mind from his». This case of methonomy is used here to show all those people, who find those facts interesting. Anthony has his «gauze», his protection. This metaphor found its place exactly where it should be.
The boy is scanning the information and absorbing only that, which is worth doing it:
«Jura Mountains... Blue smoke... a blue-eyed Alsatian... a Concertina... the Blue Alsatian Express... many miles from nowhere... haymaking damsels in white sunbonnets... hayrakes... laughing at us...»
Eleanor Farjeon uses graphic meansto let us feel the way Anthony reads the newspaper. These three dots after each phrase help us follow his eyes, catch that lines which make sense for him.
At last our protagonist finds something which is worth reading. The author again uses graphic means to emphasise on it:
«A Minor Mytery»
Antony's eye roved no more. His «gauze» let the facts go directly to his mind. While reading the article, Anthony is impressed by the breakdown of the train. Not just a separate event made him be interested in the news, but the whole story. That's why Mrs Farjeon uses such a long sentence with parallel constructions:
«It described the breakdown "many miles from nowhere" of the Blue Alsatian Express at the foot of the Jura Mountains. It described the blue smoke rising from a heated axle, the engine-driver sprinting along the lines like a madman, soldiers jumping out on the line and playing a concertina, a nervous woman-passenger wondering what had happened; it indicated the plutocratic luxury of the corridor train with its restaurant; it told of the blue mountains and the blue sky, and "the hay-making damsels in white sunbonnets and hayforks on their shoulders" who "are laughing at us over the hedgerows".»
While reading the paragraph «A Minor Mystery» about a quite little man who went away «without any outward sign of annoyance, hesitation, or distraction», Anthony is disillussioned a little bit. After a rhetorical question «Had the breakdown occurred within easy reach of his own home or destination?» enters his direct speech:
“Oh, no,” said Anthony, answering the journalist, “of course not!”
The character has another point of view, and he is ready to share his thoughts. At this moment we can see his inner speech:
“Why should it? It was most unlikely. And — annoyance? Why should the little man be annoyed? And where was the Mystery, Minor or Major?”
As we see, it is logical, but sometimes incorrect. While thinking, the boy misses some words “And — annoyance?”, and this helps us to understand what a srteam of thoughts is in his mind.
In the scene, where Anthony finds himself in the stuffy carriage, it is clearly seen the attitude of people in that train to the breakdown. They are irritated and pay no attention to what is going on around them. On the contrary, Anthony laughs at them and observe their behavior. There are several epithets here: “the nervous lady”, “a fat millionaire”, “his fat wife”. Parallel to this, he looks at the window and sees “ green and sweet meadows”, “soft dim woods lay between the meadow and the slope”, people who are laughing and mowing the hay, “lay in the grass munching honey-cake and drinking light beer”. They are “sweet and fresh and frank” and Anthony sympathize with them...
In the end, he makes up his mind to leave the carriage and to join the Alsatian nature. And he makes this decision also “without any outward sign of annoyance, hesitation, or distraction”. He is “in Blue Alsatia”. “To which there are no tickets.”
Summing up the analysis of the given extract one should say that Eleanor Farjeon was a great writer. With the help of such stylistic devices as parallel constructions, graphic means, irony, metaphors and epithets she created a beautiful story, so deep and bright, that one can't but admire it. She tried to show the main idea of the text to the reader, that we all shouldn't be indifferent to the world around us and be able to enjoy it and its beauty.
In the end I want to say, that this story is wonderful and it was worth reading. It made me remember one of my favorite poems “Leasure”, written by William Henry Davies: