Analysis

“The Happiest Days of Your Life” by Penelope Lively follows a traditional plot structure, including narrative techniques like backstory and foreshadowing. The story is structured around a young boy called Charles Manders, depicting his inner conflict created by the idea of going to a new school, where he might be bullied.

The characters include Charles Manders, as the main character, and his parents, the headmaster, and his wife – Mr and Mrs Spokes - as secondary characters. Other characters that appear briefly in the story are the maid at St Edwards’, as well as Charles’ future classmates. Charles’ parents also mention the Wilcox family.

The main events take place in the English county of Sussex, on the way to St Edwards Preparatory School, and on the premises of the school. The social settingexplores aspects related to class relations in Britain,  social status, the British school system, and bullying in school. 

The events are described by a limited third-person narrator who sometimes borrows some of the characters’ perspectives.

The story is told using descriptive language. The author uses a mix of narration and dialogue, which helps the readers understand more about the characters and their circumstances, and typically British expressions to give the story authenticity.

You can read the full analysis in the following pages.