the Sound Machine : difference of the protagonist from other characters


The Sound Machine : by Roald Dahl

Question:  How was the protagonist of the short story  ‘The Sound Machine’ different from the other two characters and the general public at large? Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer : Klausner,the protagonist of the short story ‘the Sound Machine ‘ is described by the author as a 
” small frail man, nervous and twitchy with always moving hands…. “

            He was a rather small figure with comparatively large head “inclined towards his left shoulder as though his neck were not quite strong enough to support it rigidly.” 

           His pale grey eyes that blinked and peered behind his steel spectacles were bewildered, unfocused and remote .  This suggests he was a “dreamy”, “distracted” and nervous man, who looked like his mind was not where his body was . This is because he was always consumed with sound, trying to discover different realms of music that the human ear can not hear. 
          He has been described in the story as ” moth of a man ” indicating that as a moth is attracted towards the bright lights so was Klausner attracted to sounds.

        Klausner was quite different from others in many ways but most remarkable qualities of his character were his obsession for sound and his concern for nature.

      Klausner was obsessed with sounds as he himself said “I like sound “. He believed that there are a number of high – pitched sounds that are inaudible to human ear. In order to prove his theory, Klausner wanted to create a machine that can convert these inaudible, high – pitched sound into the vibrations that can be heard by human ears.

       Klausner worked for hours to create such machine, he used to spend all his time with his sound machine. In this process he himself never knew when his passion turned into obsession.

       Klausner was so preoccupied with his sound machine that he had no time for either people or other things, and people recognised him as a mad and mentally unstable man.

        When he asked Me. Saunders to cut another yellow rose, she who ” always believed her neighbour to be a rather peculiar person, now it seemed that he had gone completely crazy. “

        It is his obsession that made him so desperate to prove his theory. At the end, even after his machine was destroyed,he demanded to know from the doctor if the latter had heard the sound, which he himself had heard earlier.
           He compulsively asked “Dr. Scott, what did it sound like?”

         Apart from his obsession Klausner was different from many other in his concern for nature.
     Klausner wanted to hear the sounds made by a fly, a bat and innumerable other creatures. But when Mrs. Saunders cut the stem of the rose plants, and Klausner could hear the ” throatless, inhuman shriek”, he immediately identified the pain in the sound.

          On the other hand, Mrs. Saunders was unconcerned about the pain of the rose plant which is suggestive of apathetic attitude of people towards nature.

      He asked Mrs. Saunders, “how do you know that a rose bush doesn’t feel as much pain when someone cuts  its stem in two……It’s alive, isn’t it ?”

        His heart was distressed with pain, for the plight of the plants and tree that are cut.

     After experimenting on a tree in a park, when he hit the tree with an axe to hear the sound, he could not stop himself  ” touching the edges of the gash, trying to press them together to close the wound”. He felt sorry and apologised the tree for the damage.

      When Klausner was waiting for Dr. Scott, he sat down disturbed, imagining what sort of a noise would be created if five hundred wheat plants were to be cut simultaneously.
      ” Five hundred wheat plants, screaming together and every second another five hundred being cut and screaming. 

        He felt that after hearing such a terrible sound, he would not be able to eat bread any more.

         At last, when he hit the tree with axe for second time and the enormous branch had Fallon upon the second machine, smashing it into the pieces, although disappointed with the loss of his machine, he ordered Dr. Scott to stitch the wound and apply iodine.
     ” you stitch this up quickly “and also  ” paint – the – cut – with – iodine”.

         He was concerned for the tree’s wound as if the tree were a real wounded person.

     His sympathetic  attitude towards the tree triggers sympathy within us for these living  things that cannot communicate their emotions.
         On the other hand, Dr. Scott was more concerned about his own safety, than hearing the sound of the tree.

       Through his sound machine, Klausner could sense the unheard pain of nature when it is exploited and disturbed. He evaluated that nature and the Earth are also living beings and their destruction and damage also affect them a lot. They shout, shriek and cry in pain but unfortunately human ears can not hear them so they can not estimate the great harm caused to the nature and it’s sufferings.

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