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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Twenty Minutes with Mrs. Oakentubb
Reference to the Context – Chapter 1
The lines given for contextual explanation are an extract from the play entitled Twenty Minutes with Mrs Oakentubb, written by Frank Arthur.
About the Playwright
In English literature, Frank Arthur is known as a novelist and a playwright. He has the quality to present suspense skillfully. The readers remain captivated till the end, while reading his novels.
About the Story
Twenty Minutes with Mrs. Oakentubb is a powerful drama based on the traditional theme of revenge. It is notable for its skilful manipulation of plot compact with suspense and thrill culminating into a sensational gruesome murder.
A certain Mrs. Judy Oakentubb, a reckless woman corrupted by the evils of high society, to avoid a head on collision with a lorry, drives her car onto the pavement killing two pedestrians. She lies before the magistrate and saves her neck with only eighteen months in a comfortable jail. But she is hunted out by a certain man in the waiting room of a country railway station. He is the husband of the woman and father of the child mercilessly killed by the lady. During the course of a twenty-minutes conversation, the man tries and succeeds in proving his point that what Mrs. Oakentubb did was not any chance or accident but a deliberate heartless murder. He kills her and takes his revenge.
“Revenge is a kind of wild justice.” – Francis Bacon
“You and I are there ————————- and I go mine.”
Here in these lines, Mrs Oakentubb is exchanging her views with the man in the waiting room. She is reflecting upon chance and casual meetings. According to her, we meet thousands of people by chance in our lifetime. They are all strangers to us. They come into our life for a short while and disappear forever once again. We meet people walking in the street, standing behind in the queues and sitting to the theatre. But we forget them the next day and never see them again.
The man agree with the lady but he points out that sometimes one of these chance and casual meetings may prove very important and may even change our life completely. The lady does not agree with the man because she never had such an experience in life. The man proves it by describing one of his own half a minute brief meeting with a Korean girl which changed his life completely.
“But man never violates the laws without suffering the consequences sooner or later.”
- Lydia Child
“I had been wounded ——— I wanted to die any way.” or
“The pain was much worse ——— and the courage to live.”
Here, in these lines, the man is describing one of his own experiences to the lady in the waiting room. He is trying to prove that sometimes one of the chance and casual meetings with strangers may prove very significant to a man and may even change his life completely.
He describes one of his experiences during the Korean-American war. He was seriously injured. He was aching with unbearable pains. He was lying on a stretcher waiting for an ambulance to go to hospital. But he wanted to die because he had no interest and no purpose left in life. His wife and daughter had been killed in a road accident, and he was fed up with his miserable lonely life. Due to severe pain, the wounded soldier fainted. After a few moments, he regained consciousness, he found a little Korean girl bending over him and watching him with sympathy. She did not utter a single word. She simply gave a kind smile and the man responded with a grateful smile. This brief and speechless and silent meeting lasted for a few moments only but it changed his life completely. After the meeting, he wanted to live, he had got an aim and purpose. He had got the strength and courage to live. In fact, the Korean girl had reminded him of his own daughter and he had made up his mind to take revenge from the lady who had crushed his wife and daughter under the wheels of her car.
“She had a choice ———– and she is living today.” or
“You know the road ———— it wasn’t deliberate murder.”
Here, in these lines, the man character called He in the story is describing to Mrs. Oakentubb the situation in which she killed his wife and daughter. He says that Mrs. Oakentubb was coming from a cocktail party and she was over drunk. She had a bet with her vicious friends. She had wagered five pounds that she could drive from “Stainthorpe Cross” to the coast in less than fifteen minutes – a distance that could not be covered in less than half an hour. More over, it was a built–up area. The road was very busy and had many bends and blind corners. It was very hazardous and criminal to drive so fast for such a trifling matter.
The man is trying to prove that what Mrs. Oakentubb did was in no way an accident but it was a clear case of deliberate murder. In a accident there is an element of chance and things are beyond one’s control. She had a choice, she could kill herself or she could drive her on the footpath and kill two innocent pedestrians. The lady argues in her defense but the man talks her down. In the end, she tries to play a trick, which fails, and the man kills her and avenges the death of his wife and daughter.
“I call it murder! ————– and never seeing them again.”
Here, in these lines, the man called He in the story is trying to establish the charge of murder upon the lady. He reminds her that she saved here life at the cost of the life to two innocent people. She avoided a head-on-collision with the lorry by driving her car onto the footpath and upon two innocent pedestrians. It was not an accident because she could save them if she wanted to. But she did not try to save them because they were nothing to her. He also reminds her of notion that chance meetings have no significance. Therefore also, his wife and daughter did not attract her interest and attention. The man keeps on repeating that his wife and daughter were brutally murdered. Because in an accident, there is always the probability of a chance but htheway Mrs. Oakentubb killed his wife and daughter could not be considered as an accident. Also, his wife and daughter had not seen her before the accident took place, if so, they could not make an effort to save their lives.
These lines are significant because here the man tries to arouse the conscience of the lady and force her to admit her guilt.
“ I have’t ——————– painful way.” or
“She has had her punishment —————-But she has had her punishment.” or
“To execute justice ———————–Tonight.”
Here, in these lines, Mrs. Oakentubb is trying to defend herself and redeem her crime by stating that she had already been punished for what she had done. She repeatedly admits that it was criminal on he part to drive so fast in a build-up area. It was also foolish of her to do so far a trifling matter- a small bet. But she insistently says that she got her due punishment. She served a sentence of eighteen months in a jail.
But the man does not agree with her and says that she did not get the punishment she deserved. According to him only eighteen months in the comfortable prison can not be adequate punishment for taking two lives. What she had done was a clear deliberate cruel murder and she deserved a capital punishment for this. He says that he is certain that if she is allowed to live in this world, she will once again start attending cocktail parties.. He tells her that he is going to render real justice by giving her the punishment for her crimes. He will not wait for a long time to render justice. He will kill that heartless woman that very night. He will take his revenge by killing her in the most painful manner.
“Our meeting is almost over ——– to keep you amused.” or
“Confess to me that you loved it ——– your spine all the time.”
Here, in these lines, the male protagonist of the play is trying to give to the lady some moments of relief from the ordeal of nervous tension she was in when she realized that the man had founded her out.
The man tells her that it was just a chance that they were meeting each other, going to the same place and waiting for the same train. Their meeting, which lasted for twenty minutes was over as the train had been signaled. He pretends that to pass these twenty minutes, he told her a story about a certain lady, Mrs. Oakentubb. He asks her if she enjoyed the story because he told the story to amuse and entertain her. He says that he could have spent this time in looking at her but it might not have been a source of pleasure for her. He says that in order to keeps her interest alive, he has told her an interesting and significant story because he knows that women are generally interested in pleasant stories. The important task for men is to please women.
Later, he hardens his attitude and forces her to admit that she enjoyed the story as he marked little twinkles of joys on her face. But the lady declines having enjoyed it. On the contrary she felt horrified because the story was partly true.
“All the time —————- what ever I am doing.” or
“I can see it now ————what I have done.” or
“Kill me————–I cannot endure.”
Here, in these, lines, Mrs. Oakentubb is describing what she call the ordeal of her punishment as having before her eyes the picture of what she had done.
The man has by this time made it clear to the lady that she is the same woman, Mrs. Oakentubb and he is the husband of the woman and father of the child she crushed under the wheels of her car. He has already proved to the lady that what she did was not an accident but a deliberate heartless murder. The lady has become sure that her life is in the balance and there is no way out. In a desperate condition, she tries to play a trick, she pretends before the man that she has been suffereing from a painful ordeal. She always has before her eyes he scene of that event – his wife and daughter lying in a pool of blood. The scene runs before her eyes what ever she is doing and wherever she is going. She can see it more clearly that she can see any thing else. She also pretends that she is fed-up with it and she cannot suffer it any more. She begs him to kill her and remove that picture form before her eyes. The man for a moment believes her and decides to let her live because to kill her would be merciful, as he wanted to kill her in the most merciless manner. But the next moment he discovers her cleverness and his own folly and shoots her to death. Pakistan and the Modern World.

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