(Patricia) Ann Jellicoe T. C. Worsley - Essay

T. C. Worsley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In The Sport of My Mad Mother, Miss Jellicoe] is attempting to evoke the world of adolescence in a modern city setting, and she succeeds by a variety of wholly acceptable non-naturalistic devices. The two boys and girls go through their motions of boredom, swagger, funk, hate; they seem to exist in some limbo of unformed fantasy, without any specific myth to give their fantasy shape: they are filled with an undirected aggression for which their setting provides no outlet; they are waiting for something or someone to provide them with some reason—any reason at all—for doing the next thing. And since there is nothing in the ethos of contemporary life to provide this reason, they seize on any—even the slightest—pretext for galvanising themselves into some activity. These spasmodic bursts of action Miss Jellicoe works up very well; most of them—since the aggression in these children has gone sour for want of using—are acts of cruelty or violence. Sometimes they break into a spontaneous dance, but more often they turn on each other, or persecute the local half-wit, or, in the most sustained sequence of this first half, set on a clean-cut, clean-limbed young American who is wandering round their city streets, 'innocently' trying to find the reason for their state of mind.

These staccato outbursts may be accompanied by a young man on the forestage with a set of drums, and the dialogue is vibrant and taut, but as...

(The entire section is 493 words.)