'School' By Peter Cowan

Essay by essay_4High School, 11th grade August 2004

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There are many ways in which a piece of literature can be read and interpreted. A text is construed in many ways, depending on the readers time period, culture and previous knowledge. When we read literature, there are many culturally determined practices and conventions that we follow. These practices and conventions are constructed by social structures such as the church, law and media which in turn will support them. Interpreting the 'gaps and silences' in a text is one practice and convention that we have learnt to do from childhood. The short story School by Peter Cowan is one that incorporates reading practices and assumptions. School has many 'gaps and silences' and contradictions that are apparent in the text information. There are also a range of readings that can be constructed from School which support different views, ideas and values.

The text information in Peter Cowan's short story School, has been constructed in a way that we as the reader can interpret it in countless more ways than what it may mean on a surface level.

Cowan limits the information of the text to allow the reader to form their own meaning. The text does not provide complete information about the boy in the story; it merely implies that he is feeling alienated and depressed. There is no text information that unambiguously explains that the boy is feeling alienated and excluded. In the last paragraph, the boy's difficulty is described by, 'He looked at the symbols on the paper and they blurred and made no pattern.' In this sentence, we assume that he does not understand the work, but this is only inferred. This text can be analysed as being limited in text information; to interpret it, the reader has to make assumptions of the omitted information.

Text information...