Lifetime Experience Of Ian Mcewan’S
Mother tongue written by McEwan expresses the author’s personal experience with his mother tongue, his perspectives and thoughts about language and class divisions and the way these had an effect on his life and writings. Basing on these convections, we could say that this text type is an autobiographical essay, based on the author’s personal experience. An essay that reflects the way language and his relationship with his mother’s English has shaped and affected his life. Along with this, the main purpose of the essay is to explain how language affects someone’s identity and shapes the way people see the world or other people.
As previously stated, Mother Tongue reflects his relationship with his mother tongue, his native language and the way he was affected by it. His mother’s language had a huge effect on his life since his mother Rose, as well as his father, belonged to a low working class with very little education. Rose, his mother, was conscious of her non-standard English and of the way other people looked down upon her. Hence, in every moment of her life, she was conscious of her social class state which had a great impact on her life and of the author’s life, Ian McEwan.
This analysis aims to show Ian McEwan’s relationships with class differences, his mother’s English and his experiences through his life especially related to his childhood and family background as well. In Mother Tongue, Ian McEwan writes about his difficulties in learning standard English, the English he did not speak at home. During this childhood, he read novels written by Graham Green and was acquiring words like “nothink, somethink, cestificate, skelington, chimley”, not the exact words you would hear from high-class people. All of this life, Ian McEwan reflected on the contrast between class and language and the way they influenced him and his writings. McEwan “inherited her wariness”, he was conscious of his non - standard English as well as aware of being looked down upon and of spending his life trying to shake it off. This could be shown in the quote “a letter bomb, a word bomb”.
Here, the author uses a metaphor which is directly referred to the language, as it is effective to associate the language spoken by his mother as a letter bomb, a word bomb. Therefore this gives the impression of being so devastating, so harmful that stopped his mother being confident with her own language as she if she was afraid of being defined in her society. Hence, this makes his mother Rose afraid, like a bomb, of her own language, her own way of speaking. This in fact, directly affected Ian McEwan in his childhood as he was aware of not being able to speak proper English.
Throughout the text, the author uses another technique: the anecdote or rather a short interesting episode or story about a person. Through the quotation “It’s a lot of cars today, id’n it?” the author recounts a day with his mother in a nature reserve while walking around with some sandwiches and some tea. This technique is used to highlight even better the way his mother spoke which makes the audience reflect on how people judge or look down upon other people just because they speak differently. In addition, her way of speaking was also influenced by her first signs of vascular dementia, which started to have an effect on her thoughts. Perhaps the way his mother spoke was grammatically distraught, however it was understandable. This makes the audience, educated adults or university students, reflect on how the way someone’s speaks can affect the way other people see other people and judge them accordingly to the way they speak. His relationship with his mother’s English wasn’t very positive.
Around 18 years old, Ian McEwan started to cut his infrequent visits home, since he actually edged towards “silent despair”, “irritation” or eventually to “mental suffocation”. The use of these expression, especially the use of the metaphor in “mental suffocation” underlined how irritated and frustrated he was, which further led him to despair. This shows how Ian McEwan had a persistent pressure and tension on his psyche that struck him to a block of his emotional and mental state. These vocabulary have been used by the author with the aim of penetrating into the reader’s feelings and making them understand how his mother’s language had such a great impact not only in his life but also from a psychological point of view.
During his childhood, Ian McEwan was sent to a boarding school in Suffolk, an environment characterised by students with a middle-class background. He never spoke in classes, never acted in plays, rarely spoke in groups of boys. He felt different from all the other boys, having a distinctive social class made him very shy and isolated from the rest of his classmates. His teachers defined him as “an intimate boy”, “hopelessly shy”. People described him as desperately and miserably shy, just because he used to speaking non-standard English. Hence this shows how much the author preferred to isolate himself and not talk to anyone rather than get acquainted and talk with the others with an English he was ashamed of.
Language is something that goes beyond someone’s personality: it represents you, like an identity card, and is doesn’t matter whether your very intelligent or not, you will still be defined by it in your society. He couldn’t integrate himself and be himself. This had a great effect on the audience’s since it shows how much the way someone’s speaks can change your true identity and how sometimes people can judge other people. In conclusions, thanks to the use of stylistic devices such as diction and figurative language, the author demonstrate his relationship with his mother’s English and the way it affected his life and social integration.