More Than Just The Disease

By close reference to "More Than Just The Disease", show what feelings you have for Neil in the course of the story. What lessons do you suppose he has learned by the end of it?

In the story, "More than Just the Disease", Neil who was away from home for a holiday with the Middleton family experienced and learned much. The best part was how Neil managed to take the first step of overcoming his shyness, not to "suffer from more than just the disease".

At the start of the story, we come face to face with the dominance of Neil?s mother. "Be tidy at all times, then no one can surprise you" and "A little too ornate for my taste-vulgar almost" shows that Neil?s mother does not just exist in planning everything for him("although he had been reluctant because of this very thing, she had insisted he could not turn down an invitation from the doctor?s family"), she had embedded herself in Neil?s thoughts, even to the end of the story like, "Close your mouth when you?re eating, please. Others have to live with you" and " It will teach you how to conduct yourself in good society", all highlighted in italics. This brings about irritation and annoyance as Neil is really a "Mama?s boy". He does not seem to have a mind of his own and lacked the moral courage to be his own personality. This is worrying as this dominance of his mother may stay with him all his life. I am, to a certain extent, angry with Neil, for being so easily dominated by his mother, and not by his own self. It is rather disappointing of a protagonist.

The continuous excuses given by Neil ("Too cold", "I told you I can?t swim", "No, it?s too cold") shows his defences to cover up his disease, psoriasis as he is inferior about it. This is understandable as he is fearful of being found out and shunned by everyone. ("If there is one thing he couldn?t abide it was to be laughed at") I sympathize with him as it is indeed unfortunate to have the disease and desperately trying to hide it. However, when he gave his final excuse "I?ve got my period", the whole situation changed. Besides the readers getting some entertainment, they are fairly amused and laughed behind his back. "There was a long silence" and "Neil heard her (Anna) make funny snorts in her nose". The most ironic thing is that Neil does not know about it. ("There was something not right")

However, the worst came when Michael confronted him. Michael expressed his anger and frustration on Neil, wishing he "might as well have asked a girl to come away on holiday", since Neil is no fun, calling Neil a "useless bloody Mama?s boy", "flinging a handful of sand at Neil and ran down the water". Humiliated, "Neil?s fist punched in the sand", "he was almost sure Anne had laughed"). Neil went back to the house. My sympathy goes out to him. He was angry, helpless and lonely. Michael was angry with him, "Anne and her father had gone into the village on bicycles" and only Mrs. Middleton was left. He felt depressed and little about himself, "right now he felt he was a Mama?s boy". The short stay was lengthened as he thought that "he had been here a night, day and a morning, it would be a whole week before he got home". He is pitiful and this is rather worrying. Morever, it got worse when his depression is escalated by his homesickness, "he just wanted to climb the stair and be with her behind the closed door of their house". It would be better if Neil had been more sociable and independent, but Neil was not very strong and thus felt despondent. At lunchtime, he chewing (chewed) his roll with difficulty", probably trying to hold back his tears.

When Neil returned the cat to Mrs. Wan, he was able to pour out his troubles to her. Mrs. Wan made him feel comfortable and good about himself. ("Yes, I am," said Neil and smiled and sipped his tonic") he opened up and told Mrs. Wan about his disease. This is very comforting for Neil has taken the first