John Wain Short Fiction Analysis
Though frequently categorized as one of the “Angry Young Men” of the 1950’s, John Wain claims that his work is not decidedly bitter. Still, his reputation as a debunker of rigid English society and an apologist for the alienated young man has persisted. While Wain’s short stories are disciplined and energetic, he is at times an acerbic social critic and frequently writes with a strong moral cast. Typically, Wain’s stories concern the internal conflict of a first-person narrator. The narrator usually is not very perceptive, whether for lack of intelligence or maturity. A frequent effect of Wain’s stories is that a conflict is well developed, human narrowness is scourged with satire, and a thematic irony is made unmistakably clear. His early stories reflected his “angry” mood of the 1950’s but also show concern for a wide range of topics.
“Master Richard” and “A Message from the Pig-Man”
Two stories from Wain’s first collection Nuncle, and Other Stories provide insight into his early short fiction. Both “Master Richard” and “A Message from the Pig-Man” are dominated by the perceptions of their child-protagonists. Richard, a five-year-old prodigy, is the narrator of his story. It develops by means of the diary convention, with Richard recording his observations secretly in a notebook. The boy gauges his maturity of mind at roughly thirty-five because the conversation of adults is easily...
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