The Wasp Factory:
How does Iain Banks allow the reader to retain empathy for the protagonist, Frank, while at the same time horrifying the reader with his capacity for destruction?
This short novel by Iain Banks shows how knowing your way around a language, in this case English, and how to morph it correctly can lead to some very interesting results. This is achieved not only by what Banks writes about but how he goes about writing it.
During the whole book, we are confronted with several situations in which we are pulled into the story and are forced to make a judgement, this is how the author gets us, he pulls us in, we establish a connection with the characters, our judgement becomes cloudy, flawed. We stop being mere spectators, we become involved with the story, analysing it and judging the characters. In my opinion, Iain Banks has a lot of tools in his arsenal to turn what should be a clean easy judgement over what should be a horrifying character that we find repulsive, into an exhausting fight between “good and evil” in our brains in which we struggle to make something out of the protagonist. We feel the need to label him, but we are not sure what to label him. Is he a crazed psycopath or is he just misunderstood?
We feel a strange empathy for the boy but at the same time we are horrified by him and how he thinks. This effect is just what the author wanted to achieve and he does it successfully.
First, how he chose to narrate the story is very important. He did not choose to write as though he were an all-knowing omniscient presence that sees the action from the outside, not interfering. He discards this narrative style, used very commonly in novels all around the world.Instead, he takes a different route, he writes it in Frank (the proganist)’s view, the first person narrative style. I think he chose this style because it fits very well into what he tries to do in his novel. Narrating the story in this way means...