Wednesday, July 16, 2008

THE SOUND MACHINE by ROALD DAHL



Introduction:

The story is mainly about a person who events a machine to detect the sound of plants and trees. He is considered by society as weird and almost crazy. However, the author has many hidden messages in this story such as, we should respect people even if they hold different views; be open to new ideas; accept and admit the truth; dare to be different and respect all life forms and love the environment. We also should not reject or ridicule people who think differently from us and we should not label people who are different.

Setting:

Klausner’s house, garden and a nearby park

Main characters:

1) Klausner
2) Dr. Scott
3) Mrs. Saunders (Klausner’s neighbour)

Sequence/Summary of Events

1. Klausner has a new theory of sound and invents a machine to capture sound. He is experimenting with his new machine one summer evening in his garden shed.
2. Dr. Scott (Klausner’s doctor) pays a surprise visit.
3. Klausner explain his theory of sound to Dr.Scott. The doctor show interest in the machine but is not convinced that the machine can detect sounds of man.
4. Klausner test his machine in his garden.
5. He tunes the machine and finds it picks up sound (cries) that coincide with the cutting of rose by Mrs. Saunders. He tries to explain his theory to her but she runs off in fear.
6. After she leaves, he pulls up daisies and finds that they let out the same kinds of sounds as the broken rose stems.
7. Early the next morning, Klausner goes to a park and cuts a beech tree. He detects a similar cry and quickly returns home to telephone Dr. Scott.
8. At the park, while demonstrating his theory to Dr. Scott, a branch fall on the machine.
9. Klausner demands to know from the doctor whether he has heard a sound but the doctor denies it.
10. Klausner forces Dr. Scott to treat the “wound” of the tree.
11. Dr. Scott obeys and both he and Klausner walk back to the house.

Character Analysis

1. Klausner

• meticulous and patient (“……studied it carefully….checking each wire. He did this for perhaps one hour.”)
• insecure/unconfident (“He kept on talking to himself with litter words of comfort…afraid that the machine might not work…”)
• nervous (“He was a small, frail man, nervous and twitchy, with always moving hands.”)
• crazy/mad (Mrs. Sounders had always believed her neighbour to be a rather peculiar person; now it seemed that he had gone completely crazy.”)
• excited
• confident

2. Dr. Scott

• inquisitive (“What’s this? He said, “Making a radio?”…curios to know what this strange patient of his was up to.”)
• skeptical (“Well,” he said, ”As a matter of fact ….”,”No, I’m not sure …”)
• nervous (“He saw Klausner’s hands tightening on the handle of the axe. He decided to run fast”)

3. Mrs. Saunders

• obliging (“Certainly, Mr. Klausner, if you like,” she said. She took her scissors….snipped another rose.”)
• nervous

Themes:

1. Madness vs. Sanity

People who hold different views from the rest of society are often labeled as mad. Klausner’s behaviour and what he believes seem strange to others.

2. Appearance vs. Reality

Are the sounds heard by Klausner real or just a pigment of his imagination? The sound machine that is supposed to prove that plants cry out when they are cut or destroyed. Therefore, the question is unanswered till the end of the story.

3. Rejection vs. Acceptance

The story shows that people are different. We should not reject people who are different from us or whose ideas we find rather controversial. It is important that we live harmoniously together despite our differences.

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