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Kreativ Riting” by Brian McCabe

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“Kreativ Riting” by Brian McCabe is a short story which shows the educational, cultural, and social class divisions in the class. It centres around the narrator Joe seeking attention from his teacher, PK, who does not care about Joe’s or anyone else’s education in his class. This essay will show how Brian McCabe reveals conflict in the class through characterisation and language.

In the opening paragraph of the story, McCabe makes the divisions in the class obvious to the reader, PK says:
“‘You do know what I mean by creative, don’t you Joe?’
‘Eh… is that when ye use they fancy letters and that? I said.’” In saying the above, PK deliberately picks on Joe specifically, and by McCabe putting the word ‘creative’ in italics, it shows that PK does not expect Joe to know what it means, when in fact, it is ironic, as PK is his teacher, who is meant to teach him the things he does not understand, Also, Joe uses slang in his poorly worded sentence, to emphasise the contrast between his education in PK’s perfectly formed sentence, playing up to PK’s expectations.

Later on in the story, PK makes his attitude towards Joe even clearer, when he says:

“‘Empty your mind. In your case Joe, […] that shouldn’t be too difficult.’” By PK targeting Joe and insulting Joe’s intelligence, it increases the conflict between them. By having Joe as the narrator, we see the situation from his point of view and we see PK as a villain. PK’s attitude towards Joe shows that PK thinks Joe is uneducated and beneath him. It is also quite ironic that PK asks the class to be quiet repeatedly, and then picks on Joe, almost granting him permission to answer back, making the class noisy once again.

Further on in the story, while PK is ‘teaching’ the class about ‘creative writing,’ and how to get inspiration, he reveals the cultural divisions in the class in this conversation:
“‘Is it ‘The Clash?’’
‘[…] It is none of that Clash trash.’”

In McCabe writing PK’s response to Joe’s sensible question in a nasty ways, it shows PK’s snobbish attitude towards Joe and that PK does not consider Joe’s music taste appropriate, its portrays PK as a posh man, who looks down his nose at anyone who does not agree with him and his musical preferences.

Towards the end of the story, PK makes his plans for the lesson that day clear. “‘Now I’ve got a pile of prelims to mark, so I want you to keep quiet and get on with it.’” When PK says ‘keep quiet and get on with it,’ it makes it clear he cannot be bothered talking to them anymore; or teaching them. McCabe’s word choice shows that PK has given up with the class, and when he mentions the prelims, it is clear he is more focussed on the other class, who are obviously bright, if they are allowed to do prelims.

In Joe’s essay that he writes in class, McCabe uses typography and structure to get across Joe’s message. In the paragraph, Joe uses only capital letters, giving the idea that he does not understand how to write sentences, or that he does not want to conform to the basic rules of writing. He is also playing up to PK’s expectations and more by making his entire essay grammatically incorrect. Sentence structure is well used when Joe tops-and-tails his essay with the phrase:

This reveals how he wants people to view him, when in fact, in the middle of the essay, Joe reveals his emotional side when he says:
‘I LOVE HER [his mum],”
this is the antithesis of him being ‘sheer mental’.
McCabe uses repetition and characterisation in the paragraph, to show how Joe really is as a person. When Joe repeatedly uses the phrase:
“‘I HAVE GOT NO […],’”

it reveals that Joe realises his poverty and he is terrified at how is life is going to turn out. It shows he knows his situation very well, and he has accepted the fact that he is in a completely different social class to PK. His word choice with this quote shows how little Joe thinks of himself and his possessions, and it reveals how tough Joe’s exterior is, in spite of his situation, which makes the reader pity Joe.

In this short story, ‘Kreativ Riting’, Brian McCabe shows conflict between a rebel student and his snobbish teacher PK. This essay discussed how McCabe reveals the educational, cultural and social class divisions in the class using characterisation, word choice, and typography.

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