Cricket Match

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade December 2001

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The cricket match and the concert afterwards are two highly significant incidents in L.P. Hartley's novel, The Go-Between. These events mark the passage of Leo's growth into manhood. At the cricket match Leo changes from being a spectator sitting on the sidelines to taking an active role. He has to deal with the responsibility of making the great catch. While doing so he learns of various underlying factors in the behaviour of the adults. The experience is in some ways repeated in the concert where he is again faced with what seems to be a daunting task which he handles successfully. The great class division is evident throughout the cricket match. It can be seen even from the beginning, with the teams being divided between the villagers and those from Brandham Hall, "˜as if a battle were in progress'. We can see the affect the match has had on Leo even before we read of it ourselves when the older Leo says of how he has "˜never voluntarily watched a cricket match since'.

The villagers were wearing a variety of clothes for the match, many of which were working clothes, and many were wearing braces. They could have been compared to the natives in the Boer War. The players from Brandham Hall however looked professional wearing white flannels and caps. They had more of a similarity to the trained soldiers in the Boer War. The fact that Trimingham was in fact trained is symbolic to the game. Leo is convinced at this point that the immaculately dressed team from the Hall must win. At the beginning of the match he certainly wants them to, despite the fact that Ted is playing for the village. However when Ted goes out to bat, Leo finds that his loyalties are divided. On the one hand Ted is doing well and Leo hopes that he makes a high score, but on the other hand, the notion of the villagers winning upsets his rigid ideas of social class. Marian also appears to be rather excited by the prospect of Ted's success and Leo realises that the contest on the cricket field is partly over her. It is a battle between the two contenders for her heart. We see here the love triangle between Ted, Trimingham and Marian. Marian is excited and passionate about Ted, but indifferent to Trimingham. The match also represents other conflicts and tensions between social classes. Ted seems invincible and hits the ball to make the winning shot. However, Leo catches him out. At his moment of victory, Ted is caught out. This brings up the famous saying that "˜pride comes before a fall'. This is prophetic and symbolic of what is to happen at the end of the book. Leo's delight in the congratulations of catching the ball is mixed with a sense of regret. He feels the need to apologise to Ted, explaining that he "˜didn't really mean to catch (him) out'. In the concert after the match Marian takes the stage; "˜from there, as from a throne she look(s) down' at the audience in a superior way, "˜amused and a little mocking'. As she plays the piano Leo and the rest of the audience are "˜in awe' of Marian. "˜Her performance (is) in such a different class from theirs', it does not seem to match. It is as though Marian is a "˜thoroughbred (and has) been harnessed to a cart-horse'. When Ted is finally persuaded to sing "˜he (gets) up clumsily"¦and stumble(s) towards the dais'. Ted is diminished, he is out of his natural habitat, ill at ease in a formal suit which constricts his naturalness and muscular body. The first song Ted sings is "˜take a pair of sparkling eyes', a romantic, sentimental song, as is the next one he chooses. These songs affect Leo emotionally but he cannot really understand the passions being expressed; he does not connect the lyrics with spooning. When Marian and Ted are applauded, Ted is suddenly shy and one of the villagers notices this, commenting on what a handsome couple they would make "˜if it wasn't for the difference' in their social status. Hartley uses this to show the constraints of society, one of the main problems dealt with in the novel. After Ted and Marian start their performance Marian takes off a ring from her finger and "˜rather deliberately (lays) it on the piano-top'. This could perhaps be a ring from Trimingham and could suggest her indifference towards him and their possible marriage. At the end of the concert Marian sings "˜Home Sweet Home'. She knows that if she does not sing it, it will appear that she is not co-operating with Trimingham's wishes. Nevertheless, though she sings this song, she is insincere. "˜She was singing the song by request', not by her own will and certainly not from her heart. After the concert, in line with their usual school boy banter, Marcus teases Leo about his singing. We see Marcus' snobbery as he complains about the smell of the villagers at the supper, "˜did you notice the stink in that hall?' We see the class difference as Marcus refers to the villagers as "˜plebs'. This highlights how despite the "˜quaver' in Ted's voice while singing, and despite Marian taking off her ring, a relationship between the two of them would be doomed. It would simply be impossible. So we can see how Leo has now twice in one day coped with the demands of the adult world, witnessing the behaviour of the three in the love triangle and even being involved. The events are of significance because they deal with two main important points in the novel: the issue of social injustice and the course of Leo's development towards adulthood.