Scottish Textual Analysis: 'The Slab Boys' Themes

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Scottish Textual Analysis: 'The Slab Boys' Themes by Mind Map: Scottish Textual Analysis: 'The Slab Boys' Themes

1. Social Inequality

1.1. Treatment of Phil and Spanky compared to Alan, who comes from middle-class background - denial of opportunities based on social status?

1.2. Preferential treatment based on religion? - Belief of Phil and Spanky that 'masons', protestants, get prioritised for promotions and are generally well treated.

1.3. Social conservatism and work-place hierarchies - working-class rebels like Phil and Spanky are treated with practically contempt.

2. Entrapment and Frustration

2.1. Lack of social mobility, e.g. Phil trying (and failing) to get into Art School to try and live more ambitiously, limits ambitions.

2.2. Role of family and social background when trying to pursue ambitions - Phil is arguably held back by the need to help his mother, for example, who is mentally ill.

2.3. Phil, in particular, is an incredibly romantic character who comes across as jaded and cynical due to frustrations in his life - shown by his grand gesture of trying to get Hector a date for the staffie with Lucille, he is not completely done with everything.

3. Escapism

3.1. Many characters, but primarily the main pair, use humour, wit, reminiscing etc. to escape the hum-drum life they all lead and to avoid/overcome pain (e.g. Curry recalling his war stories to get through the day.)

4. Rebellion

4.1. Phil and Spanky are constantly pushing boundaries and fighting against inequality, conservatism, unfair treatment etc. and are self-styled 'greasers' almost in the way they dress etc.; the '50s and '60s cultural revolution?

5. Generational Gap

5.1. Perpetual conflict between the Slab Room and Curry, and to a (lesser extent) Sadie: they have different values and different ways of evaluating self-worth, e.g. fashion.

6. Mental Health

6.1. Keenly tied into Phil's character; mentally ill mother brings a challenge and burden to his life, as he feels trapped by her and her 'episodes' - he is incredibly disheartened by it.

7. Role of Women

7.1. Attitudes and Experiences of Lucille/Sadie/Phil's mum - suggestive of objectification and marginilisation, Lucille is treated as something to aquire, Sadie is a tealady and is not allowed out of that role due to the strangling of oppurtunities due to working class status + sex, etc.

8. Religion

8.1. Phil and Spank's irreverence for, but clear investment in, catholic identity - use it for a quick joke but do play into sectarian conflict to stoke tension in the Slab Room e.g. with Hector.

8.2. Separate schooling between different characters e.g. Spanky and Alan, Phil and Hector, etc. indicates a level of societal division in 1950s Scotland as protestants and catholics were deliberately kept apart.

8.2.1. 'Place is crawling with masons' - implies that protestants are given preferential treatment in the Cutting Company.

8.3. Substitution of proper help for religion - Phil feels that the church has improperly treated his mother and practically try to pray the worries out of her rather than offering real treatments for her poor mental wellbeing.

9. Friendship and Workplace relations

9.1. The complex relationship between Phil and Spanky: play off each other and form a comedy double act, but still have moments of extreme difference between the two that leads to major outbursts. Friends, but not unconditionally.

9.2. Alan and the Slab Boys: Spanky and Alan's dynamic relationship (a victim of P&S' jokes but also defended by Spanky occasionally), and Phil's projection of class-based hatred onto Alan.

9.3. Lucille and the Slab Boys: Objectified regularly, she becomes the Slab Room's prize, sought after by Hector, Phil, Spanky, and Alan.

9.4. Curry and the Slab Boys: A grizzled (supposed) WW2 veteran, he looks down upon the Slab Boys as unprincipled, leading into various conflicts between the two; however, as per usual, Phil's hatred of him is far more extreme than the others.

9.5. Hector and the (other) Slab Boys: A subject of regular victimisation but also someone who Phil and Spanky do somewhat care for, he has one of the more complicated relationships in the play with the main pair.