„Sixpence” is a short story written by Katherine Mansfield. This is quite a humorous story with a touch of sadness. The story tells us about everyday situation when parents are educating their children by physical punishment. The story is written in the third person but in the last third of the story can see into the mind of the father in particular, following his thought processes. The theme of this work is “should children be whipped?”
The text structure is based on four elements: the opening, where the author describes the main character; the conflict, where mother asks father to whip the child; the development, where Dicky is being whipped; the climax, where father feels bad because he punished Dicky.
Concerning the language of the story, many semantic fields can be found, for example, where the main character is described ( good as gold as a rule – simile and what he is implied by the metaphoric term “mad dog” – like he is an animal out of control.). The dialogs are quite formal between mother and father. Use of active verbs in the story show how full of energy and mischief the boy seems to be (hiding, running, and dodging): But Dicky wouldn’t come. Oh, he heard right enough. A clear, ringing little laugh was his only reply. And away he flew; hiding, running through the uncut hay on the lawn, clashing past the woodshed, making a rush for the kitchen garden, and there dodging, peering at his mother from behind the mossy apple trunks. The simile “like a wild Indian”, shows Dicky different to his normal self.
The author uses many stylistic devices describing characters, for example, simile “he felt like a man in a dark net”. The father feels trapped into doing something he doesn’t really want to do, i.e. slipper his child. She describes in the same paragraph how father feels emotionally, for example, his arms felt heavy. The author used personification describing father. Despite all his hands doesn’t lift up.
However, the strangest father whipped Dicky....