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Fay Weldon as artist picturing women’s characters

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Fay Weldon is an English author, essayist and playwright, who has been one of Britain’s most famous novelists. In her stories, Weldon typically portrays women who find themselves trapped in difficult situations. It can be illustrated by the example of her short story “The Bottom Line and the Sharp End”. In this story the author introduces us to the two women: Avril le Ray and Helen. Within the story Weldon contrasts Avril and Helen, using the description of their shoes, clothes, attitude to life, to love, to men and to work. So, all the time the two women are at the extreme ends, but our attitude to them changes within the story. In the first part of the story, where we learn about their relations and background, Avril is presented as “a scraggy, haggard and pitifully brave woman”, who used to wear “expensive, daring green shoes with satin bows, all the better to flirt in”, but today her shoes are “still green, but somehow vulgar and pitiable”. Helen, in her turn, is presented as a “solid and worthy woman”, who can “afford to be gracious”. She wore “cheap navy shoes with sensible heels, all the better to work in”.

Today her shoes are still navy, “but expensive and comfortable”. The author uses various parallel constructions and repetitions to stress the difference in their social positions and even family statues. In the second part of the story we learn more about Avril’s life and our attitude towards her changes. She has always been at the sharp end and it has always been her bottom line. She has always tried to make the best of the situation; she is an optimist. Helen’s bottom line has been to avoid sharp ends. All her life is sensible medium and we see that at the end of the story she regrets her “sensible life”, she “feels weary of the salon and her bank account”. Avril’s last words can serve as the message of the story which explains everything: “nothing lasts, so you’d better have as much as you can, while you can”. To sum up, it can be said, that the author creates the opposition between the women, using the descriptions of their appearance, character, shoes, clothes and even attitude to life, love, men and work.

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