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Tyres Notes

Tyres – Adam Thorpe


See also:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYL6hddeBMk

 https://prezi.com/m6wrpgiau03_/tyres-adam-thorpe/

Adam Thorpe 1956-

French-born English novelist, poet, playwright, mime artist and short story writer.


Summary:

In this story, Thorpe sets ordinariness – working on cars, changing tyres, a developing relationship – against extraordinariness – the Second World War and German occupation – to create a small poignant story of war.


The narrative of Tyres is set against the tension of German-occupied France during the Second World War, where relationships are strained, little can be openly communicated and suspicion is rife. The brutality of war suddenly intervenes in the middle of the story with the killing of the suspected members of the French Resistance movement (the Maquis) and the villagers forced to view the bodies, their ‘guts…literally looped and dripping almost to the floor’, before the hanging of the ringleader from the village bridge. Set against this is the gradually developing love affair between the young lad learning to maintain vehicles in his father’s garage and the girl who cycles past each day. The young man’s narration leads the reader gradually to his final act of involvement with the resistance against the Germans and its effects; ill-luck seems to be the cause of guilt, and the final revelation of the age of the narrator shows how long that guilt and fidelity has lasted.

missthompsonmedia.weebly.com/uploads/4/2/3/1/4231685/tyres.pptx


The narrative of Tyres is set against the tension of German-occupied France during the Second World War, where relationships are strained, little can be openly communicated and suspicion is rife.

The brutality of war suddenly intervenes in the middle of the story with the killing of the suspected members of the French Resistance movement (the Maquis) and the villagers forced to view the bodies, their ‘guts…literally looped and dripping almost to the floor’, before the hanging of the ringleader nicknamed Petit Ours from the village bridge.

Set against this is the gradually developing love affair between the young 17 year old lad learning to maintain vehicles in his father’s garage and the girl who cycles past each day. The young man’s narration leads the reader gradually to his final act of involvement with the Resistance against the Germans and its effects; ill-luck seems to be the cause of guilt, and the final revelation of the age of the narrator, 44, shows how long that guilt and fidelity has lasted.

In this story, Thorpe sets ordinariness such as working on cars, changing tyres, a developing relationship against extraordinariness: the Second World War and German occupation, to create a small poignant story of war.

http://pchujman.cumbresblogs.com/2016/06/14/tyres-by-adam-thorpe-2/


Characters:

The Narrator –

Born in 1925 so 15 when the Germans invade France in 1940. A very shy boy who respects his father and is proud to be part of his father’s business. HE has been brought up to be a meticulous worker who is very aware of the safety implication of his job; the cause for the tragically ironic twist at the end of the story. He seems to lack confidence when dealing with people other than customers and he take a couple of years to bring himself to talk to Cécile. He is however faithful and honours her memory long after she is dead and the war has finished.

Father:

A WW1 veteran who does what he needs to do to feed his family and keep his business going, even if that means dealing with the Germans. He is hard-working and refuses to grow old and retire, still dealing with customers at the age of 90 at the end of the story.


Cécile:

A kind and gentle girl who is the love interest in the story. She is obviously attracted to the narrator and seems prepared to wait for him to develop the relationship in his own time and his own way. Our understanding of her is generated more by the narrator’s commentary rather than by what she does. Ultimately she is an ‘innocent’ victim of war, collateral damage.

The Gestapo Officer:

Almost a stereotype. He seems like a friendly buffoon but the narrator suspects he was the person responsible for hanging the Maquis leader, ‘Little Bear’ from the town bridge.

Jules:

The father’s Gendarme friend who seems to have been able to get the narrator to avoid STO conscription and the father business form the German military.


Setting:

Most of the story is set in 1942/43 when the narrator is 17/18 years old. It is set somewhere in South-eastern France in Vichy territory. Vichy, the supposed ‘free’ area of France was eventually occupied by Germany in November 1942 after the Allied victories in Africa.


The narrative perspective is sometime in the 1990’s when the narrator is around 65 years old (his father retired in 1969 and the story is told sometime after this date.). The story read like a told tale as if the narrator is telling the story of his war experience to a listener.


Themes:

Love & Loss:

The tragedy of the story is that having spent several years plucking up the courage to talk to Cécile, she is so tragically, so ironically killed just when their relationship is taking off. The depth of the narrator’s sincere feelings for Cécile are demonstrated through the way he keeps fresh flowers on the spot where she died and never married.

War:

The story is told with WW2 as it’s backdrop. We get some sense of the violence of war from the treatment of the captured Marquis fighters and the total futility of war is presented through Cécile’s death.

Tyres:

The title of the story and the profession of the two main protagonists and it is a deliberately damaged tyre that destroys the love of the narrator’s life.


Timeline:

1925 – Narrator Born

1940 – Spring – Fixes Cécile’s tyre for the first time. Narrator 15 years old.

1940 – June – French Armistice – Germans occupy North & West France. Vichy government in

Southeast France. So the story set in Vichy France.

1942 – Narrator ‘mature’ enough to ‘wave’ at Cécile.

1942 – Narrator 17 years old- ‘et Fils’ added to sign.

1942 – November – Vichy France occupied by Germans after Allies invade North Africa.

1943 – May – First ‘pothole’ incident and conversation with Cécile.

1943 – June/July – Collaborator warning from the Maquis fighter

1943 -  March, Father’s meeting with Jules (saves son from STO service + deal to fix German cars?)

1944 – Jan-March – Germans nervous and shooting at anything. Maquis attack. Capture and

execution of ‘Petit Ours’.

1944 - 2 weeks after above (and shortly before D-Day) Cécile dies in the Gestapo Officer’s car.

1944 – June 6 – Allied invasion of France.

1945 – May 8 – unconditional surrender of Germany.  End of WW2 in Europe.

1948 – Summer – visit by British couple with hydraulic suspension on their car.

1969 – Father ‘retires’.

1990 - End of the story – the father is 90+ years old and assuming he was 25-30 years old when his

son was born that would mean the father was born between 1895-1900. In the final paragraph the narrator says “I don’t think I will miss it” which conveys the idea he might be retiring. Born in 1925 + 65 years = 1990.