Analysis of Maiden Voyage by Denton Welch (the text included as well!)

Essay by ikhs0324High School, 11th gradeA-, December 2008

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This passage from Maiden Voyage by Denton Welch is an account of an adventurous European boy in China who wishes to explore the different cultures and experience the extraordinary. Yet he is overwhelmed by the barbarity of the new culture and this reveals to the reader the unexpectedness of life from the boy’s perspective. Through the first person narrative and detailed descriptions of the events, various themes such as teenage rebelliousness, gap between different cultures and our limited knowledge is highlighted through different literary features such as contrast, colour imagery and metaphor.

From the very beginning, the juxtaposition between the inside and the outside of the European villa accentuates the differences between two cultures. Inside the villa, where the foreigners live, seems to be more secure and settled as reflected by the reference to the ‘stable doors’. The boy’s observation of the ‘signs of cultivation’ also hints the civilised European culture inside the walls.

This perhaps links to Mr Butler’s comment that ‘foreigners are not very popular’ and people outside and foreigners have separate communities. The main character using ‘moth eaten balls and the old tennis racket’ shows that young people like himself used to stay at the villa, but not for long periods of time – it is where people don’t appreciate the thoughts of the young. As the plot develops, the change in the setting is emphasized by imagery. Words such as ‘a black speck’ and ‘a dark boulder’ are colour imageries used to foreshadow the unfavourable and unexpected event. Outside of the European villa, the ‘human head’ that the boy has found implies that the culture outside is in a way, barbaric. This is supported by cruel images such as ‘odd white teeth stood up like ninepins in its dark, gaping mouth’, ‘its cheeks and shrivelled lips...