The Shoe-Horn Sonata

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The Shoe-horn Sonata John Misto’s purpose for writing the play “The Shoe-horn Sonata” was to bring recognition to the brave Army nurses who were imprisoned by the Japanese during World War Two. In Misto’s word: “I couldn’t build a memorial, so I wrote a play instead”. Imagery is important and prominent in the play, as it enhances Misto’s ability to create recognition. With the imagery, the audience can immerse themselves in Bridie and Sheila’s story, giving them a sense of empathy, as if they were in the camp with Bridie and Sheila. The two scenes that I have selected are Act 1, Scene 3, as it recounts the time when Bridie and Sheila met each other, and Act 2, Scene 13, as it highlights the moment Bridie and Sheila find real freedom. For Act 1, Scene 3, I would like to focus on the shoe-horn and the atrocity of war. The shoe-horn is very important, as it is included in the play’s title, and an important example of imagery as it signifies many things and is a very frequently repeated motif. In this scene, it signifies life and death. Bridie uses it to save Sheila from drowning after their ships, the Vyner Brooke and the Giang Bee, have been bombed by the Japanese. It contributes to the theme of Bridie and Sheila’s long and hard struggle to survive – first in the South China Sea, then during the camp. For the atrocity of war, the audience get a first-hand look at the relentlessness of the Japanese. This is highlighted when they bomb the ships that Bridie and Sheila are on, even though there were only women and children on board. When the Japanese shone the searchlight on those on board the Giang Bee, Sheila describes the intensity of the searchlight as “the strong, hard beams hit us square in the face”, and the women and children on board as “standing ghostly white on the deck”. This portrays everyone on board as in a vulnerable position and defenseless. You
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