Iain Crichton Smiths “The Telegram” explores the theme of prejudice. Smith talks about how fear breeds prejudice and that prejudice is born out of ignorance. This can lead onto people creating scapegoats for their problems. Smith uses a range of techniques like sentence structure and imagery but uses characterisation to show prejudice is formed from the characters of the story.
“The Telegram” is set during World War 2 in a Scottish town in the Highlands. Two women come together because of the elder holding a telegram that might be for one of them. This is because their sons may have been killed in the war and it is the elder’s job to deliver the bad news.
Prejudice is often formed when someone has a narrow-minded outlook on life. This is made clear through the imagery used to describe these women. Smith compares the two women to birds. “Two birds, one a fat domestic bird, perhaps, the other more aquiline, more gaunt, or to be more precise, more like a buzzard.” This gives the impression that the fat woman is lazy and stays at home a lot. Whereas the thin women is portrayed as someone who will do stuff for herself instead of getting someone else to do it for her. This gives the contrast that the fat women has everything giving to her and doesn’t have to work for anything in her life whereas the thin women has had to work for everything she has in her life, she has never had anything giving to her. The Fat woman has never left the village “The...days.” This has caused her to have a narrow-outlook on life as she has never experienced anything different. Prejudice breeds in highland communities because people never experience anything different which only allows them one way of thinking.
Prejudice breeds when fear is present. This is made clear when the fat woman talks about the thin woman’s son being safer because he is an officer “they...conditions.” This comes from the elder getting closer to her house. The fat woman also shows prejudice in not believing...