The Code of the Woosters Close Reading
The short story The Code of the Woosters is a highly satirical and humorous story, which is also highly effective in many ways. A close reading of just the third page of the story, still in the introduction phase, already illustrates Jeeves’ figure as a source of guidance and caring for Bertie through the use of clever well-placed dialogue, Bertie’s descriptive and concrete images of Jeeves’ mannerisms and persistence, as well as the casual and sarcastic tone Bertie carries through the page as a whole.
A vast majority of the third page is indeed dialogue between Bertie and Jeeves, which not only adds to characterization, but also serves to set the tone of each character, especially Bertie. He clearly sees right through Jeeves’ attempt to push him in the direction of taking a trip around the world, and through his tone initially tried to assert some semblance of dominance–“this nuisance must now cease…” is a command, not a request.
At Jeeves’ very proper answer that travel was highly educational, Bertie continued to display more than dismay, but actually went as far to seemingly attack Jeeves, accusing him of his own motives for wanting Bertie to travel. This paragraph of dialogue, at close glance, serves a great many purposes, and is filled with literary devices to complement the piece.
Bertie is extremely descriptive in this piece of dialogue, especially with regards to his use of imagery. He describes “the tang of salt breezes” and the “Dancing Girls of Bali”, as well as a yacht. This concrete imagery was used to solidify the use of foreshadowing by alluding to a time where Jeeves was a sea-faring person of some sort. This was described by Bertie as “that old Viking strain of yours…”, which could also allude to Nordic roots.
This paragraph complements the actual control Jeeves has over the cynical Bertie. After Bertie accused Jeeves of having selfish motives, Jeeves’ short and curt answer immediately prompted Bertie to change the subject, showing through dialogue and dialogue transitions the certain amount of deference Bertie holds for Jeeves. This can be deceptive in the story as a whole–especially when placed against the juxtaposition of Jeeves calling Bertie “sir” throughout.
Bertie’s quick change of subject due to the reaction he got from Jeeves was merely a tone of voice, or even a facial expression, and yet the author was able to use concrete imagery and metaphor to paint a picture in the readers’ mind of Jeeves’ overall opinion of what Bertie had just said: “He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled, so I tactfully changed the subject…” A man with a curt look on his face, and a forced smile immediately comes to mind, which certainly seems consistent thus far.
The most apparent thing throughout the entire the piece, and especially the third page, is that Bertie is mischievous, certainly cynical, and possibly lazy. He describes trying to steal a helmet from an officer, which landed him in a holding cell. The tone with which Bertie describes his experiences, as well as his perception of and deference for Jeeves certainly proves that while Jeeves at first glance is a submissive character, he is very much in control over Bertie and his actions.