In literature class, after reading «Tyres», by Alan Thorpe, we answered in groups some questions about the story.
- (P396/397) Sum up his boyhood thoughts, opinions and feelings.
- During his boyhood, he looked up to his father and respected him, he was very proud of the family business and was very anxious to continue with it when he grew up, we can see he started with the family business when he was just a baby, “I started helping my father as soon as I could stand upright. The tyres were so important for him that his life turned to be all about the tyres business, “I learnt to see a tyre as sad, when its chin lay flat on the ground, melting away- and when it was fat and full it bounced, it was so happy”. His life changed from being ordinary to extraordinary when he fell in love with Cécile, she was the reason of his happiness and optimism during war. He thought that love was an extraordinary feeling. All of a sudden, his hopeful life changed when the love of his life died because of his fault. The death of Cécile made his life miserable and boring, he was a hopeless loner for the rest of his life.
- What attitude does the father, Monsieur Andre Paulhan, have towards the Germans, the Resistance and to his son’s (Raoul) involvement in the war and resistance?
- His father hated the Germans because they brought nothing more than poverty and suffering to his country, and he they caused his limp, “The odd thing is, he hated the Germans-they had, after all, given him his limp in ‘17”. However, he showed respect to them because it was the only way that he could continue with his business and pass it on to his son in the future. Monsieur Paulhan didn’t hate, nor support the resistance/maquis, he didn’t care of them, the only thing he cared about was his business and son. When the Maquis asked for help with their tyres, he would only help if they came as clients, otherwise, he would turn them away, “. He didn’t want his son to get involved in war because he didn’t want to take the risk of Raoul dying, “He was a man who could never take risks”. In addition, he didn’t want Raoul having the terrible experience he had at war when he was younger. Andre didn’t want Raoul to get involved with the resistance because he said that the members of this were free and he wasn’t, he said that when war finishes, and the Germans return to Berlin, he and his son will own the tyre business, “These boys, they are free. You are not. When all this is finished with, and those bastards are back in Berlin, that sign will have your name on it, and your son will be le fils(the son)”.
- Describe his first meeting and emotions with the young girl when Raoul was 14/15 in 1940 and three years later at 17/18. (P399/400)
3) The first time Raoul saw Cécile he fell in love with her, he would stare at her every time she passed by on her silver bicycle on the evening and morning. When he met her, and actually exchange a few words, they were both very shy. Every time he saw her, he blushed. After that they met again, in the market, she glanced and smiled at him, and said bonjour. He was so shy that he didn’t reply anything, he just stayed there, “They are like that: the muscles of my face have a will of their own, at times.” Two years went by, and he finally reached the sufficient maturity to wave at her when she passed by and “shout some innocuous greetings (I mean, more than bonjour or bonsoir)”. After three years since he met her, “the final ‘breakthrough’ came when, pedalling towards me at the time I just ‘happened’ to be wiping my hands on a rag at the edge of the road”, a military vehicle was behind her at a considerable speed, and he waved his hand and shouted at her to keep well in. She showed gratitude to him, and he replied with a “clownish shrug” which made her laugh. That evening she went to his shop and thanked him, and he said “That’s all right”. “We couldn’t think for anything else to say, but it didn’t matter”, this shows that it was enough for Raoul with her presence. “What is there to say to someone you have known as a reliable face and form for three years, but with whom you have never exchanged more than a greeting?…Someone who, if suddenly no longer there, can leave a hole in your heart, and a feeling of doom until the moment he or she reappears.”, this quote expresses how madly in love Raoul was with Cécile, that she was the reason of his happiness and also of his sadness(she was so important for him that when she was no longer there he was miserable. Ever since he met her, his life was extraordinary for the romance he had.
- How do these lines reflect the Raoul’s feelings at the end of the story: “Someone who, if suddenly no longer there, can leave a hole in your heart, and a feeling of doom until the moment he or she reappears.”
4) This quote reflects his feeling at the end of the story, because when she died, and never reappeared, his life was miserable, there was a hole in his heart that never was covered. His life was doomed, he never married nor had kids, he was hopeless and lonely. And this was caused by her, because she was no longer there. He never could get over her, “I leave fresh flowers every year, on the anniversary”. His life changed to being ordinary again. She was the ‘someone’ who could cause this pain to him. This quote foreshadows and reflects his feelings and life at the end of the story.
5 p401 How involved in the Resistance does Raoul think that the young girl and his father are? What does the threat: “Try a nail or two” imply about the father?
On the one hand we know that Raoul definitely knew that the girl was involved in the resistance, and that’s why he sabotaged the german car because he loved the girl so much that he would do anything for her, even take the risk that the German discover what he had done and the family business would be ended. And on the other hand, we have Raoul’s father. Raoul thought that the position of his father was neutral because he repared Germans cars but also Maquis, this shows that he didn’t have a position, he only repaired cars from both sides to maintain the business. The quote “ try a nail or two” means this: Raoul’s father fixed the Germans cars to maintain his business because he wanted that in the future the tyre shop would be of his son. The Maquis knew this so they thought that maybe he could sabotage on of the Germans vehicles. When a Maqui told Raoul “try a nail or two” he meant that they had to sabotage the Germans cars because if not they would think they are on the Germans side.
- (p402) What does Raoul do to bring the girl closer to him? How does his father react?
6) Raoul wants to make her stop and bring her closer to him, so he woke up early, so that he would be certain not to miss when she passed by. The morning encounter had an advantage, his father did paperwork in his office, which had curtains that didn’t let him see across the yard, until nine. He saw that there was no one in the road and the girl was approaching, so he stepped in the middle of the road with a bucket full of stones and earth and started to “pour it into the pot-hole, the subject of our counter exchange”, he put the stones all across the road. When she passed by she stopped and said that he had no right to do that and that he will be arrested. His father discovered he was in love and said “ “Wipe that bloody stupid grin off your face”…”Or I’ll think you’re up to something” “. Raoul though that his father might have felt cornered in some way, but if he didn’t like what was happening, he would say so.
- Describe Andre’s feelings about religion and about the Petain government. P403 and elsewhere.
He is against that the Jews were killed because most of his clients were Jews so when the Germans killed them, he has less clients. The feelings about religion that Andre’s had were not the best ones. He hates catholics and he is also against the jews being killed by the Germans, like this quote shows, “ He disliked catholics with a two-hundred-year-old force flowing in the veins”. Andre point of view about the war was very personal. It was very personal because he thought that war was affecting his business, because of war, he had less clients and that was affecting his family business.
8 Finally the romance with Cecile Viala is in the open with Raoul’s family p403/404 How would you describe their feelings for each other?
Raoul was in love with Cecile for a long time but he didn’t know her, he didn’t know even her name but he always saw her ride her bike. When they met they started talking and knowing each other and they both fall in love. Raoul’s love for her was immeasurable. He love her so much that he didn’t care the jokes that his sisters made to him. “ …and my sisters soon learned of my affair. They teased me about it, but I was happy to be teased”. This quote shows that he didn’t care what his sisters make laugh of him because he was so in love that he didn’t care of nothing that wasn’t Cecile and spending his time with her as much as she could.
9.( p405) What has prompted Raoul to sabotage the Gestapo officer’s inner tube?
One Sunday, Germans ordered people “to pay a visit to the Mairie”. There, in a table used for meetings, were laid three bodies, three maqui bodies. This showed that the Germans were brave, powerful. As soon as Raoul saw the bodies there is a specular moment in the story. He saw himself reflected in one of the dead people, “One of them was a local man, the son of the butcher, a little older than myself.” through this quote Raoul thought this young man laid on the table could be him. Because of this he reminded all the suffer they have been through because of the Germans, as the execution of the Petit Ours. However, Germans, were his clients. “One in particular, was a large, friendly man – and probably the very cheap, as an officer of the Gestapo…”. When he remembered this client he memorized that the Gestapo Officer´s soft-topped Maybach needed a change of tyres. This is when he remembered the words of the man of the café, to sabotage the German´s vehicle, if not Maquis would think he is the enemy. As a result of this, Raoul, decided to sabotage the Gestapo Officer´s inner tube, as an act of revenge.
10.What is the faint hope Raoul has for Cecile as she accepts the ride in the car?
The faint hope Raoul has for Cecile as she accepts the ride in the car is that she was forced to enter into the car, she was forced by the circumstance. She had no excuse to refuse the offer of the officer, sometime ago she had rejected the ‘gentleness‘ of the man because of the loose of the chain of her bicycle. If she denied the offer again he would suspect that something was wrong. “My belief is that she hoped to extract something useful from the enemy in that brief drive into the town”, through this quotation Raoul tries to convince himself the reason why she entered into the car, trying to think he was not eager to provoke this tragedy, that he did not have all the blame. .
11 . The story ends with a reluctant mood to shift with the times. Explain how this is true.
The story ends with a reluctant mood to shift with the times, mainly, because of the lose of the love of Raoul’s life, Cecile. He ended up with his ordinary life again. After the dead of Cecile he couldn’t continue his life, he never had children nor married. He never progressed. In comparison with the beginning of the story, at first, his dream was to spend his whole life with this woman, however, because of the tragedy, this could not happen. Furthermore, with the love of his life´s death his lost his passion, his anxiousness for continue with the tyres business, as he wanted at the beginning of the story, he does not care about the job anymore. Moreover, his desire, at first, was to continue with the business of his father for different generations, but, as he did not have children, he ended up with the tyres shop. So we can conclude that Cecil’s death was the main cause of the reluctant mood to shift with the times at the end of the story.
By Abril Teran Frias, Lucía Caviglione y Trinidad Porretti.