” is another example of Bennett’s clever character juxtapositions but also of using unexpected events to contrast what was being done before it, with the stage directions of “the classroom falls silent” suggesting that the boys’ found it rude and out of place for Irwin to but in.
The language “fall silent” contrasts with the hectic and the loud situation that occurred before it, using Irwin’s awkwardness to change the tone of the scene.
Hector, the master teacher of the story, is a self-pitying, obese pedophile.
We have to think outside conventional norms in order to enter the spirit of things.
Many of the students in my class just couldn’t do it, though some of them—and I was surprised at which ones—could (there’s a separate essay to be written on the surprising nature of this breakdown).
I don’t know whether the representation of Hector in is Bennett-esque, British, or simply literary, in a grand if problematic sense, but putting his fatal flaws aside, Hector’s teaching represents everything I revere, try to practice, and see rapidly disappearing.
And yet he also opposes anyone who tries to find a practical purpose for a literary education.
Take Irwin, the young teacher brought in to prepare the boys for their Oxbridge exams.
Hector movingly explicates why it is so important that the soldier in the poem has a name—a crucial aspect of acknowledging his individual humanity.
The insight helps student and teacher fleetingly acknowledge their mutual loneliness and, from this, their human connectedness. In it the Queen of England, as she approaches her 80th year, becomes, unaccountably, an avid reader.