Structure

The short story “Loose Change” by Andrea Levy presents a single event in the life of a female narrator—her encounter with an immigrant girl who needs a place to sleep. The story is structured following a traditional plot line with a few characters. However, the end of the story introduces a plot twist—instead of helping the girl, the narrator abandons her.

Title

The title of the short story, “Loose Change” is an expression which refers to a small amount of coins. When people need such coins they usually ask others to exchange their banknotes by asking if they “have any loose change”. This is what happens to the narrator of the short story. She needs loose change to buy tampons, and the only person who offers it to her is an immigrant girl. The title is a reference to the inciting action because this is how the narrator makes contact with the girl, and the reason why the plot of the story develops. It is also significant that homeless people often ask passers-by to give them some loose change; in this case, it is the privileged woman who asks for the change and the homeless girl who gives it.

Beginning

The short story begins with a straightforward exposition in which the narrator conveys a self-characterisation: “I AM NOT IN the habit of making friends of strangers. I'm a Londoner. Not even little grey-haired old ladies passing comment on the weather can shame a response from me.” 

The opening lines function as a foreshadowing element. It is clear that the narrator will make an exception to her habit of not talking to strangers. Furthermore, the emphasis on being a Londoner foreshadows the story’s ending, as the narrator will abandon a girl in need illustr...

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