The title of the short story I am tasked with reviewing is, “Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot” by Harold Avery. It is a juvenile fictitious story about an all boys boarding school and the events leading up to and including the 5th of November; after a new Headmaster changes the rules and disallows a fireworks display to be carried out on the grounds. I did not enjoy this story, as I found the language to be prudish and outdated and the plot was very anti-climactic.
The story follows the plot of four young lads: Brookfield, Jarvis, Roden, and Perry. Who attend Yatby Grammar School. Upon hearing the news that the new headmaster, Mr. Chard, would be prohibiting the use of firework displays on the grounds; They conjure up a plan to unite as many boys as possible in a show of disobedience and rebellion against his blatant disregard for fun and freedom that these boys clearly hold dear.
The purpose of the story is to bring entertainment to juvenile males during the late 1800s to early 1900s and fits into the genre of children’s stories and adventure. The story takes place at Yatby Grammar School which appears to be an all boys school from what the story talks about. I think that this setting suites the genre as it’s relatable to children during the time of the stories conception. However for a modern audience I feel that it’s almost so distant from what we understand that it’s slightly alien.
The characters in the book are hard to relate with and come to terms with in the modern day, as the language they use is very formal and “old timey” for lack of a better phrase. I also feel that because of this it feels false and non-believable, almost forced if you would. There is no character development or growth, the characters stay the same throughout which is a disappointment.
The plot of the story is very anti-climactic and comes to a very abrupt conclusion. There is very little suspense built up throughout and I feel that overall it lacks depth and feel. The events in the plot to some extent are very predictable, however I feel that the ending was unexpected, but not in a good way. I was hopeful that the story would go somewhere, however it did not. There was no bang or grand finale, just but a fizzle.
The major theme of the story was treason and rebellion, this is apparent because of the large amounts of disobedience and disregard for authority and the repercussions and consequences of their actions
The lesson of the story appears to be that things aren’t always personal as they first seem; which our characters learn when the headmaster, Mr. Chard, says that he didn’t mean to diminish their fun and gave them a half holiday to play football, I think it shows that you should think out a situation before hand.
The main twist of the story is that, throughout the story the boys plan to set of fireworks in a show of rebellion. However this never happens because upon going to claim the stored fireworks, Brookfield becomes spooked by what appears to be Mr. Chard waiting in the corner and the boys flee. They then decide to leave the plan and the story feels almost misleading, the twist brought the story to an abrupt ending that didn’t sit well.
What did I dislike about the story? A lot. Where do I start? Firstly, the plot had a lack of suspense and tension, there was no character development at all. The ending felt weak and left you wanting more, over all I feel that it focused to much on small insignificant parts of the story instead of building up towards a strong ending.
In conclusion I would not recommend reading “Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot” as the language leaves a lot to be desired and feels highly dated and is hard to follow. The characters feel false, forced and disingenuous and are hard to relate with, which in turn makes the story hard to relate with also. The ending feels rushed and doesn’t really go anywhere. Overall I would give the story a 6/10.