A Grotesque Old Woman Analysis

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At the start of the novel, Manod - a small town in Northern Wales – is largely insignificant. It lacks a sign on any road, so is very isolated and nobody knows where it is. On top of this it is miserable and grey, and almost always raining. Everybody is dull and reserved. Overlooking the town is a large, grey mountain which formerly served as a slate quarry. Therefore, all the houses have this grey slate on top of them. Even the children at the local primary school, when asked to paint their area, used only grey. It is a depressing and lonely place. Families are quickly leaving for London to work on the Thames Barrier, leaving only one boy remaining in Manod. Manod is a strange community, an example of this is the hairdressers ‘curl up and…show more content…
Dylan describes her as having ‘two pigtails… that make her look like a Viking.’ Terrible Evans treats Dylan unfairly, when he offers to play Connect Four with her she pokes him hard in the eye. She always seems to be vicous and performs unfair tasks such as stealing Dylan’s chocolate and ‘thumping him in the kidney’. Terrible Evans is on a trip to see the paintings with the school when she first sees ‘A Grotesque Old Woman’ by Quentin Massys she is on a trip to the quarry to see the painting with Lester and her class at school. Just before they arrived Terrible Evans was following Dylan and trying to steal his chocolate. Once they have been led down to the chamber where all the paintings are stored she gives Dylan ‘a rabbit punch in the kidneys’. Dylan ‘doubled over and she took… (his) other Mars bar’. She did this twice and the second time Dylan turned on her, chasing her up the tunnel. Suddenly, Dylan heard a scream. ‘A terrible scream, blasting past… (him) down the tunnel’. When everybody rushes to find her, she is flustered and worried. In front of her is ‘A Grotesque Old Woman’. Terrible Evans stood, gasping. She said ‘sorry. I thought it was real’. She is obviously shocked at the state of this woman. Dylan describes her as having a ‘certificate eighteen’ face with ‘great big nostrils, pointing out at you like a pair of truck exhausts’…show more content…
This painting is a still life of oranges, nuts, figs, barrels, boxes and a melon. It all looks incredibly realistic which is what gives Daft Tom the confidence that he recreates something so like it. On first seeing it he ‘stares at it, quite closely, as if he was trying to pick the best nut’. He then says, ‘I’d rather look at this than a battle any day’ to Lester. Even while Lester is telling Dylan a long tale, Daft Tom still stares at the painting, mesmerised. He had ‘never seen oranges with the twiggy bit sticking out of the top before’. It was clear to Dylan that Tom didn’t want to leave, he was desperate continue looking at the nuts. Tom decides that he can change Manod by bringing the spectacular effect that the still life had on him to everybody in town. He creates his own remarkable still life, out of everything which he could find at ‘Save-A-Packet’, constructing it in the window of the garage. ‘He’d made a little carpet of soap powder and put a pile of raisins in one corner, next to a big pile of cornflakes. The he’d put little empty milk and juice cartons round the whole lot and some bits from a barbeque set.’ Daft Tom had thought to himself ‘I can’t paint, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a still life to look at, does it?’. Seeing the painting has changed him because when Minnie asks, ‘did you ever just think of just stealing the original still life and looking at that?’

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