The childhood is often the most important time in a person’s life. Through your upbringing it is to some extent determined which kind of person you are going to become, as the norms and values that your parents teach you are going to affect you throughout your life. Children also tend to have a vivid imagination, which they use to explain the unexplainable. These unexplainable events can be a result of many things; neglect, loneliness or just an overactive imagination. An example of a similar incident is portrayed in the short story Mount Pleasant from 2005 by Mary-Louise Buxton.
Mount Pleasant is about Elizabeth, her family and their life in their new home Mount Pleasant, which the story therefore is named after. The short story begins in medias res in the following way: “Mammy’ll take me to the wooden spoon if she catches me up in the attic.” Here the reader is instantly introduced to the protagonist and the narrator of the story, who is a young person, as she is restrained by what seems to be a mother figure, who is referred to as “Mammy”.
From this quotation it can also be seen that the narrator of the story is a 1st person narrator, and later in the story, it is revealed that the narrator is the young girl Elizabeth. The narrative technique and the language are quite unusual in this story, due to the fact that that it is told from a child’s perspective. This perspective affects both the language and the understanding of the story. The language is a kind of childish slang, which can be seen in the following quotation: “If I was a boy like my big cousin Wilf or like my babby brother George William, I could get filthy dirty. But I don’t want Mammy to shout at me again today (…).” The childish slang can be seen in the use of the words babby brother and Mammy, which means baby brother and mother.
This quotation and the introduction of the story also present the relationship between Elizabeth and her mother, which is rather tense. The tense relationship can be seen in the last part of the quotation above but I don’t Mammy to shout again and in the very first sentence of the story Mammy’ll take me to the wooden spoon. This indicates a repeatedly verbal and physical abuse of the daughter.
This violent abuse is elaborated later in the story, where Elizabeth and her sister Lena candy for her mother’s money, and therefore the mother decides to beat the children all the way home: “We put them on Mammy’s account at first, but Mammy found out after she got given a bill it took her three weeks’ hawking to pay for. Mammy battered us both all the way home.”
Luckily for Elizabeth, there is a big difference between her mother and her father: “(…) When Mammy says “Now” she means it. And it’s straight into the bath and up to bed before the sky’s properly dark (…) But Daddy always gives us five minutes more to finish our games.” From the quotation above, the diametrical opposition of the mother and father’s ways of parenting are made clear; “Mammy” is very strict and tough-minded, whereas Daddy seems to be more caring and acquiescent. This behaviour of the parents is throughout the story divided like this between the two, which distinctly emphasizes how the narrator interprets the parenting roles.
Furthermore Elizabeth believes that Mount Pleasant is haunted, as she hears unexplainable noises at night as well as feeling a presence of an unknown person. In the beginning of the story, she finds an old picture of a boy, and it seems like she believes that he is the one who haunts the house. The picture has been framed and put on the mantle shelf: “I can feel the weight of somebody sitting on the bed, somebody watching. […] Nobody is gripping my hand – nobody with an old hand, dry and creased. And nobody is stroking my arm slow, brushing my stiff hairs the wrong way.” Elizabeth and her sister feel precarious about the picture’s presence, they decide to clandestinely put it in the grate for the mother to burn it. However, the mother discovers the picture and puts it back on the shelf. This symbolizes that the mother is to blame for the discomfort of the children. This imaginary ghost at the attic may be a result of her fear for her abusive mother. It could also be a result of Elizabeth’s need of a loving mother’s comfort and safety, which is so important in the childhood days.
These above-mentioned facts about violent and verbal abuse and imaginary ghosts unveil the irony in the title Mount Pleasant, because the home Mount Pleasant is actually not a particularly pleasant place after all.
In conclusion, it can be said that this story focuses on the importance of a child’s upbringing and how it can negatively affect a young person, if the solicitude of a parent is insufficient.
In this particular short story, the neglect can be seen through the mother’s repeatedly violent and verbal abuse of her daughters, who therefore search for comfort elsewhere and Elizabeth even makes up an imaginary ghost due to this. With the story written from a child’s point of view, the reader experiences the thoughts going through Elizabeth’s head and gains an insight to how confusing the life of a child can be, as the reader of this story mainly is to interpret the actual events in order to understand what genuinely is going on.
 Buxton, Marie-Louise. (2005). Page 1, line 1.
 Buxton, Marie-Louise. (2005). Page 1, line 28-29
 Buxton, Marie-Louise. (2005). Page 3, line 94-96
 Buxton, Marie-Louise. (2005). Page 3, line 115-116
 Buxton, Marie-Louise. (2005). Page 5, line 169-175.