to the story by allowing readers to glimpse the thoughts and attitudes of each character, his or her perceptions of the other characters, and his or her account of exactly what happened at the park.
The first voice we hear is that of Charlie's mother. We can tell by her words that she is a rather stuffy, fussy sort of woman. She calls her son by his full name, Charles; she orders him to sit quietly on a bench; and she panics when she realizes that he is missing. She looks down upon the other characters, calling her dog Victoria's playmate, Albert, a “scruffy mongrel” (who is “bothering” and chasing Victoria), and she sees Smudge only as a “very rough-looking child.” Charlie's mother clearly does not enjoy her afternoon in the park and is not prepared to admit that anyone else does either, including her son and their dog. To her, the whole event is disturbing and upsetting.
The second voice comes from Smudge's father. He is out of work and clearly depressed, for when we first see him, he is staring at the television. His trip to the park, however, seems to cheer him up. He admires Albert's energy, looks for a job in the newspaper with at least a little bit of hope, and enjoys his daughter's cheerful chatter all the way home. His afternoon in the park is at least partially a success, and he returns home feeling better than he did when he left.
Charlie, however, our third voice, both leaves and returns home feeling sad, but he does have some fun in between. Charlie takes a completely different attitude toward Albert and Smudge than his mother does. He notices that Albert is a “very friendly dog” and that Victoria has a “great time” with her new playmate. They are just “like old friends,” he remarks. Charlie has a great time with Smudge, too, even though she is a girl. He focuses on his favorite activities of the afternoon: going down the slide, swinging on the climbing frame, and showing Smudge how to climb trees. His great time, however, lasts only until his mother catches him and makes him go home. Charlie ends his day in disappointment.
Smudge, the fourth voice, is the most cheerful and descriptive of the characters. She thinks Victoria is a “lovely dog” and not at all bothered by Albert, but she thinks Victoria's owner (Charlie's mother) is a “silly twit” for being angry. At first, she thinks Charlie is a wimp, but after she gets to know him better and they start laughing together, he is “okay.” Smudge focuses on different activities than Charlie does. She especially enjoys playing on the see-saw, watching Albert swim, playing on the bandstand, and getting a flower from Charlie. Smudge perceptively notices how sad Charlie is when he has to leave. She cannot do much to cheer him up, but she does make her dad a nice up cup of tea as soon as they get home.
These four voices come together to tell the whole story of one afternoon in the park. Without the contributions of each of them, we would hear only part of the tale, and we would be left to wonder what the other characters are thinking and feeling. Each voice fills in more detail about the events of the afternoon, too, so we get a complete picture of all that happened. We also notice how each character sees these events, and the other characters, from his or her own perspective, and we realize how the same afternoon can seem very different to four different people.