45 47 Stella Street English Literature Essay

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In Elizabeth Honey's children's text 45 + 47 Stella Street and everything that happened (1995), 11 year old Henni shares her view of the events that take place in Stella Street. She is a reliable narrator as it is intended for her story to be trusted by the reader, evident with honest statements during her introduction of telling the implied reader that she 'may not be the cleverest or the prettiest… but is the tallest' (Honey, 1995, p.5). The novel clearly shows a separation of classes within the neighbourhood, with Henni's family and friends being portrayed as the preferable middle-class, the Phonies evidently belonging to a higher class and characters such as the Brown boys being lower class. The implied reader of the book is middle-classed Australian children as they can relate to Henni, see themselves in her position and understand the common Australian terms such as milo and walk-a-thon. This implied reader experiences the events through Henni's point of view, feeling her emotions and seeing things as they appear to her, positioning the implied reader to share Henni's emotions and therefore support her throughout the novel.

The Phonies are seen as the high-class members of the neighbourhood, although later found to be criminals. The residents of Stella Street see their behaviour as being unusual as they renovate, travel regularly, constantly purchase new items and use expensive solicitors rather than confronting the issue themselves. The neighbours evidently believe the Phonies were 'made of money' (p.23) and could not understand why they felt the need to replace belongings constantly and get rid of things 'much too good to throw out' (p.87). The Phonies are mocked and criticised by the other members of Stella Street for their evidently excessive use of money with Danielle believing they must be throwing furniture out for rubbish collection as it was 'at least four months old' so 'must be time for a complete change' (p.86). They are also criticised for their formal letters of complaint from solicitors, with the other residents of Stella Street wondering why they could not simply talk about it rather than 'coming out guns blazing with all this solicitor's letter nonsense' (p.23). This makes the Phonies seem as cruel, unreasonable people. All of this along with the fact that they turn out to be criminals, imply a negative connotation on the upper class population as they are seen to be irrational, harsh beings who do not follow the law or make a reasonable attempt to be humane with the rest of society.

In comparison to the superiority of the Phonies, were the Brown boys and Donna's 'rent-a-kid' children who belonged to far more inferior class. The Brown boys were renowned for being trouble and are not trusted by the dominant class in the neighbourhood, promoting the idea that lower classes are not trustworthy or worth the respect of others. The fact that the Brown boys lie to the police in regards to their whereabouts on the night of the spotlight game, suggests that lower class people are liars, with Donna even implying this to the children by warning them not to 'bank on the Brown boys' (p.73). Similarly to the misbehaving Brown boys, the dog catcher W.P Burgess is a cruel lower class member. Henni suggests that he was 'probably a garbo' or 'the school bully' (p.43) before he became a dog catcher and describes him as having a 'nasty temper' (p.43). Burgess's poor temper and heartlessness suggest that the lower class are angry, miserable people. The troubled children Donna brings home from her social work are seen to the Stella Street children in particular as inferior and 'off the planet'(p.24), Henni nicknaming these children as 'rent-a-kid'(p.25), suggesting that they are incapable of being in a stable, loving home. Although the implied reader may sympathise with the lower class families in the novel, many negative connotations are suggested in the text with the inferior families being promoted as unreliable, untrustworthy and cruel.

The promoted preferable class in the novel is the dominant middle-class of Henni and her family and friends. Henni describes her family by saying "we're not rich but we're not poor" (p.135) suggesting that they have stable living conditions and although may not have an excessive amount of money, are able to provide and care for their family with a sustainable income. This middle class population is positioned to be seen as the desirable class to the implied reader, as they are pleased with their lives and have loving friends and family to support them. The majority of Stella Street agree on the fact that there is something peculiar about the Phonies and do not want the high class snobs living in their neighbourhood. The fact that the middle class characters in the children's novel are all friendly and positive promotes the class. Mr Nic, for example, is described by Henni as 'a cheerful chap' (p.7) and is loved by all the neighbours. Throughout the novel Mr Nic is always willing to help, whether it is babysitting Briquette or assisting the children in their mission of discovery more about the Phonies. Mr Nic is the perfect example of the ideal middle classed individual with in the text. The closure of the text plays a major part in suggesting the idealisation of the middle classed population. The happy ending presented in the text shows the high class Phonies being sent to jail and the lower class Brown boys and W.P Burgess disappearing, illustrating how the high and low class populations are far less successful and discontent. A new family moves in to Stella Street who can be interpreted as being a middle-class family by the implied reader as they seem to immediately fit in and are liked by the members of Stella Street. The fact that all of the middle classed characters in the novel achieve a joyful ending suggests that it is only the middle classed population who are truly successful and therefore promotes the desirability of this class.

45 +47 Stella Street and everything that happens strongly implies that the middle class population is the ideal class with characters such as Henni and her family and friends living a satisfying, successful life as pleasant, loving people. In contrast, the upper class Phonies and lower class characters such as the Brown boys, are shown negatively throughout the text with traits such as anger, dishonesty and cruelty being connected to them. The implied reader is positioned to believe that Henni and her family are the ideal characters and therefore the middle class is the desirable class.