Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee : chapter analysis

Here is an analysis of each chapter in Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee : chapter analysis photo

A general summary

In Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee recalls his childhood and adolescence. He was one of seven children in a close family headed by his mother : he grew up in England, in a Cotswold village governed by tradition.

The book is organised in accord with his own early exploration of his widening world. He examines his infant sensations, his cottage, his yard, his village and Cotswold valley, then local superstitions, village education, his neighbours, public tragedies, private life-stories, his childhood games, village celebrations, sexual initiations, and the eventual changes as his childhood, his close family life, and the traditional village life pass away for ever.

Chapter 1 : First Light

In this chapter, Lee gives a three-year-old’s perceptions and misconceptions : small in relation to objects around him, Laurie crawls among “forests” of household objects : he believes autumn is a season and the war’s end means the end of the world. Lee uses metaphors and similes (often of water) to communicate the child’s sense of adventure.

This chapter introduces most of the themes that will be developed in the story throughout the different episodes of Laurie’s childhood : the importance of family ties, the constant presence and role of the women in his own development and the absence of a father, the magic in the world surrounding him causing numerous fears, the importance of the seasons and the overwhelming presence of nature and death.

Chapter 2 : First Names

The second chapter is divided into three sections. It begins in dark winter with peace and the men returning from war and it ends in the “long hot summer of 1921”. It roughly has to do with night-time feelings: dreams, terrors and superstitions.

The village legends : ignorance and superstition were common features shared by all the people of the village, and they led them to fear a world which seemed totally unpredictable and was governed by magic laws. Some animals or natural phenomena were given a particular meaning and there were ill omens that brought bad luck to those who crossed their path.

The village freaks : the freaks such as Cabbage Stump Charlie, Albert the Devil, Percy from Painswick… were all more or less physically or mentally peculiar. The reader might be surprised at the number of handicapped people who populated the area. This phenomenon could be explained by the fact that there was so great mixing of the population, which led to the problem of consanguinity. Besides, diseases and malnutrition must have led to further handicap. These freaks with their “cartoon” nicknames were probably the most striking and frightening people whom the little boy had heard of or seen in his narrow world.

The flood : the chapter ends then with another apocalyptic scene : the flood following a particularly dry summer. This part enables the narrator to emphasize the role religion played for the villagers at that time. In their eyes, the world was driven by magic forces that could be influenced, either by appeals to god, the Christian God, or if this did not work, by resorting to other methods: “as the drought continued, prayer was abandoned and more devilish steps adopted”.

Chapter 3 : Village school

The third chapter focuses on Laurie’s school experiences, from his first day of the Infant Room to the day he left Miss Warldey’s Big Room forever. The realization that he had to leave the house one morning and go to school came as a shock.

This second stage in the process of growing up proved as frustrating and painful as the first one (leaving his mother’s bed): he discovered a world which appeared to be hostile, violent, and full of dangers. It is as if his progressive discovery of the world followed a recurring pattern : shock, terror, the impression of being alone in an hostile world, then a final, unexpected rescue when things seemed to be at their worst.

School was the place where Laurie learnt how to discriminate between right and wrong, which was his first step toward losing his innocence. School was also the means through which tradition was perpetuated. It enabled the children to accept those who, for some reason, were different, by forcing them to mix together.

Chapter 4 : The Kitchen

In this chapter, he presents his home life – centered on the kitchen – on a typical day (using the same pattern as in other chapters), thus he catches the atmosphere which was predominant in his early childhood. He emphasizes the importance of the light in the room and the necessity of a good fire. Laurie Lee’s mother’s behaviour around the fire suggests that keeping the fire alive was a question of life and death.

Chapter 5 : Grannies in the Wainscot

Chapter 5 is devoted to the history of the Lee’s seventeenth century Cotswold house. It was once a country manor, then a “public beer-house” or a pub, and it was later divided into three “poor cottages”. In the other two cottages lived Granny Wallon and Granny Trill, two old ladies who were life-long enemies. Their death happened sometime during Laurie’s childhood.

Chapter 6 : Public Death, Private Murder

The events recounted here (Vincent’s murder, Miss Flynn’s suicide and the death of old Mr Davies) date back to an early period of Laurie’s childhood. Following the recollection of those tragic events, the narrator reflects upon the values and beliefs of the people in this valley, insisting once again on the durability or persistence of ancient traditions and attitudes.

At that time, death was no directly feared. What the villagers seemed to fear most was the presence of ghosts, haunted spots, ominous sighs from the sky, weird looking creatures which were actually substitutes for death itself. The villagers’ metaphysical fear of death had shifted to other objects.

Chapter 7 : Mother

A whole chapter is dedicated to Laurie’s mother. It encompasses her whole life, from her birth to her death, at which time the narrator was an adult. He insists on his mother’s personality and the characteristics that made her so unique, so exceptional. It is no surprise that Laurie Lee’s mother should occupy the central chapter of the book : in the same way, she occupied the center of his life when he was a child.

Chapter 8 : Winter and Summer

Life in the village was dominated by two main seasons – Winter and Summer. In chapter 8, Lee condenses a childhood of summer and winter days into an account : one typical winter day and one typical summer day. The chapter is constructed on a symmetrical plan : early morning lights and sounds, then outdoor activities, helping farmers with their cattle and playing with other boys, then roaming the countryside in the evening.

In the week before Christmas, they spent the evening singing Christmas carols in the whole area. Each section revolves around Jone’s pond, which is described at length.

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Parkway Drive – The Cruise

Parkway Drive est un groupe australien de metalcore, formé en 2002. Le nom du groupe vient de celui de la rue dans laquelle se trouve la maison d’un des membres (la cave servant de local de répétition), à Byron Bay, en Nouvelle-Galles du Sud (NSW).

Peu de temps après sa formation, le groupe effectue un split avec le groupe de metalcore I Killed the Prom Queen, en 2003. Parkway Drive apparaît également sur la compilation de The Red Sea : What We’ve Built, peu de temps avant la sortie de son premier EP, Don’t Close Your Eyes.

Sur Don’t Close Your Eyes, on peut retrouver une chanson interlude instrumentale qui s’intitule The Cruise:

Appréciez le bruit du ressac avec la ligne mélodique des deux guitares.

Mais pourquoi donc une chanson chill sur un album de metal me direz-vous ?

Et bien tout simplement parce que dans les années 80, 90 et 2000, quasiment tous les albums un peu heavy avaient une chanson chill pour pouvoir fumer des substances illicites.

Étonnant non ?

Coup de coeur : Greta Van Fleet

Coup de coeur : Greta Van Fleet photo 1

Greta Van Fleet est un groupe de rock américain, originaire de Frankenmuth, dans le Michigan. Il est formé en 2012, par les frères Josh Kiszka, Jake Kiszka, Sam Kiszka et Kyle Hauck (remplacé par Danny Wagner en 2013).

Il suffit d’écouter quelques titres comme Safari Song :

et vous allez immédiatement trouver leurs sources d’inspiration et leurs influences classic rock millésimées ! Une voix à la Robert Plant, des riffs lourds comme les morceaux de Led Zeppelin I, des break de batteries à la John Bonham… il est difficile de ne pas y voir un hommage aux années 60 et 70.

Même Robert Plant les a remarqué :

“There’s a band in Detroit called Greta Van Fleet. They are Led Zeppelin I,” Plant told Loudwire. “Beautiful little singer, I hate him! He borrowed [his voice] from somebody I know very well, but what are you going to do? At least he’s got a bit of style, because he’s said he based his whole style on Aerosmith [eye roll].”

Greta Van Fleet revendique ses influences et Jake est d’accord avec Robert Plant :

“We have certain debut records that are like benchmarks to us—Van Halen’s first record, Zeppelin’s first, even the Black Crowes’ Shake Your Money Maker. Those records really seemed to sum up each band so well. Those albums are like the gold standard, and they give us something to shoot for. It’s like, ‘Can we be that good?’”

Même l’alien et guitar-hero Joe Satriani a déclaré sur NJ Arts être devenu fan de Greta Van Fleet quasi-immédiatement :

“I’ve been listening to this young band, Greta Van Fleet, and I’m really enjoying that exuberance that I’m hearing. When I first heard them, I sent their album to all my friends that were in my high-school band. We’re still good friends and we stay in touch and, I swear, that’s what we were trying to do when we were 15 years old.

We were just trying to be like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and The Stones, but these guys are really good at it! [Laughs] They have that same kind of… it just sounds like they love music and they love what they’re doing and yeah, I’ve been listening to that quite a bit.”

J’écris cet article en écoutant leur album, intitulé From the Fires et je peux vous dire que si vous aimez Led Zeppelin, vous allez vraiment apprécier cet album. On est à des années lumières de la musique actuelle et c’est une vraie cure de jouvence pour les oreilles.

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