Essay of "Back to front"

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Kristian Elten Kirkegaard � PAGE �1� � DATE \@ "dd-MM-yyyy" �14-04-2007�

Essay of "Back to front"

Nick is the main character of the short story called "Back to front". He is very unlike any other human being but only on the inside. All his inside organs are back to front, which means that they are situated in a whole other place of where they should be. But despite these circumstances he will still be capable of living a physically normal life.

His mother Grace has always loved him from the day that he was born. Line 35 shows how much she cares about him. But after Grace has remarried her old boyfriend Thomas Siswele, Nick doesn't really get any kind of attention. Nick feels overlooked because his mother now is paying so much attention to Thomas. This quotation shows how Nick feels about Grace and Thomas' relationship: "You'd almost believe, Nick thought, standing in the doorway, unheeded, that he'd gone and written that paper himself, with all the fuss she makes over it" (line 58-59).

The fact that Nick has always been treaded like someone special and that Grace has told him that he is special, causes that he gets a great desire to tell others how special he is. At school he is interested in anatomy because of his own body, but the other children don't like him, and they tease and later ignore him. The only thing Nick wants is to feel just like any other kid, and because no one is giving him attention and love, he begins to feel lonely and starts to lie about himself and the things he do. For instance he is turning himself in at the police station for crimes, which he hasn't done for an example shoplifting, car theft and arson. But the police find evidence, which doesn't lead them to Nick, it never does, and that's why they find out that he has been lying all the time. Nick is wasting their time, and then they begin to ignore him, just like his classmates does. Nick pretends being someone else to get attention, but he only succeeds for a short time.

Grace is a pernickety mother and I know that's just the right word for my own mother, because she always wants to know, when I'll be at home and who I'm going out with. She even sends a message at my cell phone every time I'm out at night, just to hear if I'm okay.

These quotations show how Grace acted as a pernickety mother right after the birth: "What's wrong?", "Tell me!" and "As Nick was carried from the delivery room, she struggled to count the number of his fingers and the number of his toes. Ten of each", (line 12, 14 and 21-22). Ever since this day she has counted his fingers and toes. But Grace's pernickety decreases after her new marriage.

I think that she only utterly cares about Nick's outside, because when he was born, she was very afraid that something was wrong with his outside, just like any other parent would be afraid of. This is very clear in the abovementioned quotations. She was just glad that nothing could be seen on the outside. And she always makes the count.

Grace gets kind of selfish, when she marries Thomas Siswele. Now she thinks that Thomas is the different and special one. "Grace thought Thomas was different, not ordinary like she and Nick were but, oh so special", (line 52-53), which could be because of the way he looks. He is of Nigerian origin and he has got black skin. Her relationship with her son gets worse, now that someone has started to take care of her. All her attention goes from Nick to Thomas.

Lyndon is the robber that Nick meets in a police cell. Nick pretends to be a hardcore criminal and claims that he is the one who did the armed robbery at H. Samuel's jewellery store, but Lyndon is actually the one who did the job. Lyndon gets very angry with him, because Nick takes the credit for the robbery by lying. "Lyndon was no great respecter of lies, except of his own" (line 99). Again Nick seeks attention, but unfortunately it results in Nick's death. Lyndon pulls a knife and sticks it in Nick. Lyndon thought he would just hit a place with no vital organs in order to hurt him just a little.

In the end Nick dies, and this is where he gets the attention that he has always wanted, and happily he dies in a moment with satisfaction and pleasure. Paradoxically he doesn't even think of death. A very good description of his final moment: "He was so happy because everyone was shouting and looking and touching and pushing and staring" (line 113-114).

Lying on the floor with blood around him, he thinks about whether to tell the doctor that his inside organs are topsy-turvy, but he decides that he want's the doctor to find out for himself. And when the doctor later sees how Nick's organs are situated inside, he is amazed. "He'd never seen anything quite like Nick before. All back to front! Nick was his first. Nick was very special. Yes, he was. He was", (line 126-128).

I think the biggest theme in this short story is attention. Everyone needs attention and if you don't get it, this story shows what young people will do in order to be recognized and to get attention. Nick is willing to give up his life to gain the attention, which he has been fighting for ever since Thomas technically took his mother away from him.

Another very important theme is upbringing. As a child Nick was raised with enormous care and attention. But after Grace and Thomas' marriage, he doesn't get the same love as before. And I think that Grace might have been too pernickety and overprotecting in her upbringing of Nick. And that's why his personality and behaviour evolved like it did.