“And still the two old gentleman sat, perseveringly, in the dark parlour, with a watch between them. ” is an example of one of these cliffhangers. This writing style makes the book more exciting and unpredictable. ‘A Safe Place’ is narrated as an autobiographical account of Lorenzo Carcaterra’s life. It is mostly his thoughts and opinions on events although occasionally he tries to show other peoples feelings about situations in his writing.
He talks about delicate events without compassion as though they were an everyday occurrence, “His wife’s head hung to one side, her arms and legs weightless and limp, her mouth half-open, her tongue curled near the edge of her lower lip. She had been dead for less than a minute”. Unlike most autobiographies, ‘A Safe Place’ is not written in chronological order. Instead it is written as though Lorenzo Carcaterra is piecing together the events in his mind to work out what happened in both his and his father’s life.
This erratic, unconventional writing style is often hard to follow but makes the book more interesting to read. The two novels contrasting styles help make both an interesting read although ‘Oliver Twist’ does seem dated now. In ‘Oliver Twist’ Charles Dickens is, as well as telling a story, giving a social commentary on Victorian times. Throughout the novel he condemns the way Victorians treated the poor, women’s role in society, the amount of crime in London at the time and the unfairness of the workhouse system. “What a pity he isn’t a prig!
” the Artful Dodger says about Oliver at one point, showing Dickens’ thought on how criminals were criminals for life in Victorian times. There was no other option. Each one of Charles Dickens characters has something to say about the way they are treated, abused, mistaken. Oliver himself experiences all of these cruelties during his hardships and Dickens uses him to give what can only be described as a rant on the government and society of the time. ‘A Safe Place’ also has a lot to say about the way the poor are treated by society as well as each other.
Despite this it contrastingly talks about a “unity” and feeling of “closeness” between members of the neighbourhood. The beatings Lorenzo Carcaterra and his mother received at the hands of his father are seen as both disturbing and an integral part of family life. It is a view of volatile family life from a member of such a family. This position gives ‘A Safe Place’ a very personal feel to it as Lorenzo Carcaterra tells us all his thoughts on his unpleasant childhood and then continues these themes into his adult life.
The books are written from a suitable point of view for the theme although ‘A Safe Place’ is probably a slightly more in-depth and realistic view of the issues it deals with. ‘Oliver Twist’ is more of a commentary although Charles Dickens childhood was also filled with poverty so he was in a better position than most to write about struggling to survive. In both books the poverty of certain characters leads to large amounts of stress, which leads to murder.
This is an underlying theme in both books, saying that people only commit crimes because they are put in a position where they have to. I conclude that ‘A Safe Place’ and ‘Oliver Twist’ have very similar themes, those being poverty, poor upbringing, isolation and death, but are written in very different styles, based on very different stories set in different periods and different places. Despite these differences both books provide a very good view of life at the time they were written and are as much about society and history as they are about being stories.