Short Stories: Unit 1
abruptly (adv): without warning
antagonizing (adj): arousing animosity; making enemy
bleary faces (adj): blurred faces; tired faces
booties and beanie (n): woolen boots and cap of small baby
Brussels sprout (n): very small cabbages
claustrophobic (adj): afraid of living in confined places
cobalteyes (n): bright eyes
collie (n) a species of dog
contractions (n): form a word from two or more words by omitting word like won’t from will not.
croon (v): hum or sing in a low soft voice
cursed (adj): abuse with bad words
docile (adj): easily handled or managed; ready and willing to be taught
eccentric (adj): unconventional and strange
elegant (adj): effortless beauty in appearance or behavior or style
gossamer (n): an extremely fine-textured silky fabric.
grappa (n): a kind of alcoholic beverage, a fragrant grape-based Italian brandy
hammering (adj) using hand as hammer or tool
Interference (n) the action of interfering; interrupt
intoxicated (adj): influence of alcohol; drunk
limber(n; adj; v): timber; capable to moving or bending freely; to attach the timber or limber
liverwurst (n): meat sausage also known as liver sausage
Macedonian (adj): from Macedonia, south-eastern Europe
manure (n; v): organic fertilizer; natural fertilizer
merged(adj): to mixed
migrant (n; adj): moves from one region or country to another
Moreton Bay (n): a bay located on the eastern coast of Australia
mottled (adj): spotted or blotched of different colour or shades
moulting (adj): molting, hair growing.
muscovy (n): a kind of large duck of South American origin
neighbourhood (n): people living near one another
neighbours (n): a nearby object of the same kind
peeved (n, v): An annoyed or irritated mood
polish (n): native of Poland
run a hand (v): able to beat
salvage (n; v): the act of rescuing a ship; rescuing a ship from a fire; to collect discarded materials
slaughter (n; v): killing an animal; how to kill an animal
sojourner (n): a temporary resident
sophistication (n): being intellectual through cultivation or experience
stack (n; v): storage place or device; arrange in orderly
suburb (n): suburban area; a residential district located on the outskirts of a city
vermilionsunsets (adj): red colour at the time of the sunset
vernix (n): a greasy deposit covering the skin of a baby at birth
widower (n) a man whose wife is dead; person who has not married
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When they first moved in, the young couples were wary of the neighbourhood. The street was full of European migrants. It made the newly-weds feel like sojourners in a foreign land. Next door on the left lived a Macedonian family. On the right, a widower from Poland.
The newly-weds’ house was small, but its high ceilings and paned windows gave it the feel of an elegant cottage. From his study window, the young man could see out over the rooftops and used car yards the Moreton Bay figs in the park where they walked their dog. The neighbours seemed cautious about the dog, a docile, moulting collie.
The young man and woman had lived all their lives in the expansive outer suburbs where good neighbours were seldom seen and never heard. The sounds of spitting and washing and daybreak watering came as a shock. The Macedonian family shouted, ranted, screamed. It took six months for the newcomers to comprehend the fact that their neighbours were not murdering each other, merely talking.
The old Polish man spent most of his day hammering nails into wood only to pull them out again. His yard was stacked with salvaged lumber. He added to it, but he did not build with it.
Relations were uncomfortable for many months. The Macedonians raised eyebrows at the late hour at which the newcomers rose in the mornings. The young man sensed their disapproval at his staying home to write his thesis while his wife worked. He watched in disgust as the little boy next door urinated in the street. He once saw him spraying the cat from the back step. The child’s head was shaved regularly, he assumed, in order to make his hair grow thick. The little boy stood at the fence with only his cobalt eyes showing; it made the young man nervous.
In the autumn, the young couple cleared rubbish from their backyard and turned and manured the soil under the open and measured gaze of the neighbours. They planted leeks, onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broad beans and this caused the neighbours to come to the fence and offer advice about spacing, hilling, mulching. The young man resented the interference, but he took careful note of what was said. His wife was bold enough to run a hand over the child’s stubble and the big woman with black eyes and butcher’s arms gave her a bagful of garlic cloves to plant.
Not long after, the young man and woman built a henhouse. The neighbours watched it fall down. The Polish widower slid through the fence uninvited and rebuilt it for them. They could not understand a word he said.
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As autumn merged into winter and the vermilion sunsets were followed by sudden, dark dusks touched with the smell of wood smoke and the sound of roosters crowing day’s end, the young couple found themselves smiling back at the neighbours. They offered heads of cabbage and took gifts of grappa and firewood. The young man worked steadily at his thesis on the development of the twentieth century novel. He cooked dinners for his wife and listened to her stories of eccentric patients and hospital incompetence. In the street, they no longer walked with their eyes lowered. They felt superior and proud when their parents came to visit and to cast shocked glances across the fence.
In the winter they kept ducks, big, silent muscovies that stood about in the rain growing fat. In the spring the Macedonian family showed them how to slaughter and to pluck and to dress. They all sat around on blocks and upturned buckets and told barely understood stories — the men butchering, the women plucking, as was demanded. In the haze of down and steam and fractured dialogue, the young man and woman felt intoxicated. The cat toyed with severed heads. The child pulled the cat’s tail. The newcomers found themselves shouting.
But they had not planned on a pregnancy. It stunned them to be made parents so early. Their friends did not have children until several years after being married — if at all. The young woman arranged for maternity leave. The young man ploughed on with his thesis on the twentieth century novel.
The Polish widower began to build. In the late spring dawns, he sank post and poured cement and began to use his wood. The young couple turned in their bed, cursed him behind his back. The young husband, at times, suspected that the widower was deliberately antagonizing them. The young wife threw up in the mornings. Hay fever began to wear him down.
Before long the young couple realized that the whole neighbourhood knew of the pregnancy. People smiled tirelessly at them. The man in the deli gave her small presents of chocolates and him packets of cigarettes that he stored at home, not being a smoker. In the summer, Italian women began to offer names. Greek women stopped the young woman in the street, pulled her skirt up and felt her belly, telling her it was bound to be a boy. By late summer the woman next door had knitted the baby a suit, complete with booties and beanie. The young woman felt flattered, claustrophobic, grateful, peeved. By late summer, the Polish widower next door had almost finished his two-car garage. The young man could not believe that a man without a car would do such a thing, and one evening as he was considering making a complaint about the noise, the Polish man came over with barrowful of wood scraps for their fire.
Labour came abruptly. The young man abandoned the twentieth century novel for the telephone. His wife began to black the stove. The midwife came and helped her finish the job while he ran about making statements that sounded like queries. His wife hoisted her belly about the house, supervising his movements. Going outside for more wood, he saw, in the last light of the day, the faces at each fence. He counted twelve faces. The Macedonian family waved and called out what sounded like their best wishes.
As the night deepened, the young woman dozed between contractions, sometimes walking, sometimes shouting. She had a hot bath and began to eat ice and demand liverwurst. Her belly rose, uterus flexing downward. Her sweat sparkled, the gossamer highlit by movement and firelight. The night grew older. The midwife crooned. The young man rubbed his wife’s back, fed her ice and rubbed her lips with oil.
And then came the pushing. He caressed and stared and tried not to shout. The floor trembled as the young woman bore down in a squat. He felt the power of her, the sophistication of her. She strained. Her face mottled. She kept at it, push after push, assaulting some unseen barrier, until suddenly it was smashed and she was through. It took his wind away to see the look on the baby’s face as it was suddenly passed up to the breast. It had one eye on him. It found the nipple. It trailed cord and vernix smears and its mother’s own sweat. She gasped and covered the tiny buttocks with a hand. A boy, she said. For a second, the child lost the nipple and began to cry. The young man heard shouting outside. He went to the back door. On the Macedonian side of the fence, a small queue of bleary faces looked up, cheering, and the young man began to weep. The twentieth century novel had not prepared him for this.
Tim Winton (full name Timothy John Winton; born in 1960) is an Australian author.
He wrote novels for both adult and children’s novels.
His novels deal with both the experience of life and the landscape of his native country.
He competed 35 other novelists for The Australian Literary Award.
He presented for the best unpublished novel manuscript and won the prize in 1982 for his manuscript ‘An Open Swimmer’.
His popular novels are:
That Eye (1986)
The Sky (1986)
Dirt Music (2001)
He also wrote several children’s books, they are:
Lockie Leonard (1990)
Human Torpedo (1990)
TheBugalugs Bum Thief (1991)
The Deep (1998)
This story ‘Neighbours’ has been taken from Migrants of Australia edited by Harwood Lawler.
‘Neighbours’ is a story about a newly married couple living in a multicultural and multilingual suburb neighborhood.
It shows that cultural and linguistic barriers cannot stop people from bestowing love and compassion.
‘Neighbours’ is a story about a newly married couple living in a multicultural and multilingual suburb neighbourhood.
It shows that cultural and linguistic barriers cannot stop people from bestowing love and compassion.
Tim Winton’s short story ‘Neighbours’ is about a young couple who have just relocated to a new neighbourhood with several European immigrants.
Both the young couple and their neighbours have prejudices at first because they only see the strange and disgusting customs of their new neighbourhood.
After a while, they adapt to their new surroundings.
The young couple begins to like their neighbours and notice that they are not all bad.
They discover that they can be friends and that they can assist one another in their daily lives.
The author does not name the characters; he mentions in the story.
Hence, the characters are not defined; as a result, they might be viewed as role models for everyone.
Before moving, the young couple resided (lived) in the vast outer suburbs (sub-urban area).
First, they act as they are strangers and refuse to speak to anyone.
The so-called ‘young man’ stays at home and prepares his thesis on the evolution of the book in the twentieth century.
The ‘young woman’ is employed at a hospital.
After that, the entire neighbourhood begins to engage with them and offers their help.
As a result, the young couple is proud of their neighbours.
Even though the couple had not planned for a pregnancy, the young woman becomes pregnant in the spring.
Their neighbours become aware of it after a short time.
Everyone is willing to help politely.
All of their neighbours are overjoyed and wish them well after the birth of a baby boy.
For the young man, the birth of a baby is a marvel.
He learns at the end that the twentieth-century book had not prepared him for this situation.
Hence, the story ‘Neighbours’ demonstrates how immigrants may contribute to Australia’s social fabric.
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Answer the following questions:
The young couple’s house was small.
But, it had the feel of an elegant cottage because of its high ceilings and paned windows.
The young man could see out over the rooftops from his study window.
Many things irritated them.
The young couple had a negative impression on their neighbours when they first arrived in the beginning.
The cries and shouts of their neighbours came first.
The little boy was urinating in the street and peering at the fence.
Their neighbours were also concerned about their dog.
Neighbours raised eyebrows when they (young couple) awoke late.
Neighbours were disapproved with young man being at home while his wife worked outside.
The young man hated the neighbours’ involvement with their gardening efforts.
These things irritated the young couple.
The young couple cleared rubbish from their backyard.
They ploughed and manured the soil under the open and measured gaze of the neighbours.
They planted leeks, onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broad beans.
By seeing this, the neighbours came to the fence and offered advice about spacing, hilling and mulching.
The young man resented the interference, but he took careful note of what was said.
The big woman with black eyes and butcher’s arms gave her a bagful of garlic cloves to plant
In this way, the neighbours helped the young couple in the kitchen garden.
The people in the neighbourhood were surprised at the role of the young man and his wife in their family because they worked at the late hoursand they got up in the mornings.
Their neighbours were also shocked by the young man’s decision to stay and work at home while his wife worked at hospital.
The neighbours smiled at them tireless manner after knowing the pregnancy.
The man in the deli gave small chocolate gifts to the young girl and the packages of cigarettes to the young boy.
Italian ladies began to offer names in the summer.
The young woman was stopped on the street by a
Greek woman stopped the young girland pulled her skirt up and felt her belly, assuring her it was bound to be a boy.
Woman in the next door was knitting the baby a suit, complete with booties and beanie.
The young woman felt flattered, claustrophobic, grateful and peeved (irritated)by these responds.
The young man began to weep at the end of the story for different reasons.
Their child was born; it gave them happiness.
The baby had renewed new perceptions regarding the neighbours.
Their neighbours support them.
These activities enabled the couple emotionally and the young man began to weep at the end of the of the story.
Name of a person may or may not be important.
Shakespeare said “What’s in the name?”
Name is not important in a multi-cultural community.
The author could use surname (last name) but he did not because surname could show caste.
Name and surname show distinctive in another country.
Ethic and courtesy show more important than one’s name.
The ‘Neighbours’ is a short story; so, author may not want his readers to invest more time on the characters.
Short story the ‘Neighbours’ shows that linguistic and cultural barriers do not create any obstacle in human relationship.
There are many examples from the story where the neighbours have passed such barriers.
They did not speak similar languages but they share a similar culture.
Neighbours come to the fence and advised about spacing, hilling, mulching in the backyard garden.
They offered heads of cabbage and took gifts of grappa, firewood, chocolates, cigarette etc.
The Polish widowerrebuilt fence for young couple but they could not understand any word.
After pulling up skirt, an old lady told the young woman that she would give birtha baby boy.
They even began to invite one other to dinner parties.
These are some of the best examples from the story where the neighbours have transcended such barriers.
The last sentence of the story ‘The twentieth century novel had not prepared him for this’ tell us many stories.
In my view, young man found differences between the 20th century books and human relations.
There are lots of differences between bookish knowledge and reality.
Incident happened unpredictable.
In the book, characters are depended on the author but in the reality characters are not normal characters.
Everything does not go accordingly book’s characters.
The people need to manage unusual and surprising circumstances in human relations.
“Neighbors are companions for wedding process as well as for funeral procession” means neighbours help each other either wedding procession (happy time) or funeral procession (sad time).
Neighbours help the young couple when they came in community and they shared their culture and language.
When young couple growing garden, the neighbours come to the fence and advised about spacing, hilling, mulching in the backyard garden.
They offered heads of cabbage and took gifts of grappa and firewood to the young couple.
They invited each other in dinner are shown in story.
Above proverb shows that the neighbours are for both happy and sad time.
Multiculturalism is the co-existence of diverse cultures, which includes racial, religious or cultural groups.
It is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions, cultural values, patterns of thinking and communicative styles.
The author has deal with an issue of multiculturalism in the story.
I think multiculturalism has become a major problem on the grounds in the current world.
Different ethnic and cultural people create various social problems.
These problems are school dropout, joblessness, bullying, crimes, horror and so on.
Childbirth celebration is the ceremony to celebrate the birth of a child with joy and happiness.
It shares happiness in family, relatives and community.
Various communities have various rituals and traditions to celebrate childbirth.
Mother is treated a lot of caring and love during the childbirth.
Family members take the best care during this period.
In each ceremony or ritual, the community plays important role.
In my community, people use together at the home of the childbirth and congratulate their parents and family members.
They also celebrate this auspicious occasion by singing, dancing and eating delicious foods.
On 11th day of the birth, family member name the child which is known as nwaaran.
Every year, the birth of a child is celebrated as ‘birthday’ with joy and giving blessing from elder member or community.
To make the birth of a child is a memorable and happy occasion for the family.
They arrange party according to their need.
They cook different types of foods and celebrate with family, friends and guests.
They arrange gifts according to their capacity and give them to the baby or baby’s parents.
Yes, in our community people respond with similar reaction upon the pregnancy and childbirth as depicted in the story Neighbours.
Many people of community and family congratulate to the couple but mainly to male in our community.
They suggest many emotional motivations to couple for the future on new member
They bring delicious and tasty food especially to female at the time of pregnancy.
Many relatives guess about baby boy or baby girl.
Family members and relatives congratulate to new parents.
People also bring delicious food and special gift in the childbirth.
Relatives may knit or they buy readymade clothes for newly born baby.
Many family members bring local hen and desi ghee for baby’s mother.
Mother is treated with love and care during childbirth.
They care baby’s mother during this period.
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