Textuality » 5LSCA Interacting

5LSC A - SDri_Normal People: chapter 1
by SDri - (2019-09-24)
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After reading Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People, I’m going to take into consideration the hypothetical function of the first chapter. 

First of all, it is important to highlight the title of the first chapter, like every other chapter in the novel, it is a date: “January 2011”. The choice to start with the first month of the calendar year is interesting and may refer also to the beginning of something else, which will be discovered in the next chapters. 

The first impression the novelist conveys is that the two characters are students: they are Marienne, a girl, and Connell, a boy. The episode develops into a closed space and the register used by the novelist is informal. This clearly suggests that the two main characters are in good relationship.  

From the beginning of the chapter, the intelligent reader can easily understand that Connell and his mother have a good relationship and their family looks like a normal one. This can be inferred  from Lorraine’s interest in front of his son’s school results.  At the same time, Connell looks embarrassed in front of Marienne. This can be understood by Connell’s body language that shows all his insecurity: the typical action to put own hands in own pocket symbolizes uncertainty and a desire to hide or disappear. 

From the reading it also comes to light the two characters belong to different social classes : Connell’s belongs to a inferior social class compared to Marienne's. Indeed, his mother works as a cleaner in Marienne’s house. Marienne's and Connel's reputation is another relevant point present in the first chapter. Marianne has no friends and no one likes her at school; moreover, there are also some funny anecdotes about her behavior. On the other hand, Connell is very popular at school because of his skills even if some gossip about his perspective affair with a teacher put him at the centre of some students'rumours.

An additional consideration concerns the level of autonomy of the two main characters: Marienne is more independent than Connell because she is less interested in people’s judgement; she doesn’t show any interest in external opinions. On the contrary, Connell wants to protect his reputation and popularity in the school's context.

In short, it looks like the aim of the first chapter were to introduce the main characters, highlighting all what makes them different but at the same time suggesting that there might be something hidden that will get them closer in the future.