Journey by Patricia Grace

In Journey by Patricia Grace we have the theme of change, powerlessness, frustration, responsibility and acceptance. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Grace may be exploring the theme of change. The old man can remember travelling into the city by steam train. Also when he is on the train to the city he notices how much the landscape has changed. The difference that time has brought. This may be important as in many ways it acts as foreshadowing. The old man also wants to change the small piece of land that he owns and build some houses on it for his nephews and nieces. However it becomes clear to the reader that the old man is in reality powerless when it comes to the decision making on the changes that he wishes to make. While in the city talking about his land with the young man (Paul) it becomes clear to the reader that the city planners intend to make car parking spaces out of the old man’s land. Something that frustrates the old man even though he has been promised other housing. The old man’s frustration may be two fold. Firstly he is unhappy that the city planners will not build on his land for him and secondly his emotional attachment to the land gets the better of him. Something that is noticeable by the fact that the old man kicks and damages Paul’s desk.

At no stage of the story is the old man in control of the conversation he is having with Paul. The decision has been made on how the land will be allocated and the old man has to accept this. Something he finds difficulty in doing. Though time has progressed and the world around the old man has changed. The old man himself does not appear to be open to change nor is he open to the city planners reallocating land to him. This may be important as it suggests that the old man has difficulty letting go. There are some things he might be able to accept that need changing. However when it comes to anything which may affect his own life, like the housing problem, he is not comfortable with this. It is as though the old man is unable to adapt to the world around him. Something that is further noticeable by his refusal to use the lavatories in the city. His previous experience having been unpleasant.

It is also self-evident that the old man is under a lot of pressure from his nephews and nieces. Though they do not say anything to the old man. The sense is that they view it as being his responsibility to sort out the issue with the land. They themselves have tried and failed. Their only recourse is to let the old man go into the city to see if he can resolve the issue. Something which as mentioned he fails to do. What he might have thought would have been a simple issue turns out to be a bureaucratic headache for the old man. Others are in control of what will happen and not the old man. Which may be the point that Grace is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that no matter how simple or easy an individual’s desires may be. Bureaucracy will inevitable wear the individual down. Something that has happened the old man. He knows that his battle is lost and there is nothing that he can do about it.

It is also interesting that Grace mentions the old man’s garden as this is the only piece of land mentioned in the story that the old man has control over. Something he himself seems to realise. The fact that the old man looks at the palms of his hands while sitting on his bed could also be important. By looking at his hands he may again realise how physically and symbolically powerless he actually is. Earlier in the story he wanted to hit Paul with his hands but knew that he no longer had the power. The old man’s decision not be buried (or to go into the ground) may also be significant as the old man knows that he has no control over his resting place. His grave can be dug up and he can be moved. Something that the old man recalls happening to other graves while he was on his journey to the city. Overall the old man’s experience of change and bureaucracy has been unpleasant. He has not succeeded in his goal which suggests that he has become powerless to the changes that are and will occur around him. The only thing the old man can do is accept the position he finds himself in. Though this may take him some time. The old man has been beaten by both change and bureaucracy. The drive and determination he had prior to setting out to the city is no longer. If anything the old man is defeated.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Journey by Patricia Grace." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 6 Nov. 2017. Web.


  • Hi! This story is quite confusing ! Can you please clarify what is the plot and sequence of events in the story, what actually is happening ? Also , there’s a lot of stream of consciousness used what effects could that have.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      It’s been a while since I read the story but here is what I remember. The old man is making his way into town by train to sort out some of his property so that his family can live on the land. However things don’t go as planned and the council allocate him some different land. Something which displeases the the old man who gets angry and ends up kicking a desk. If anything it is a story of man versus the system with the man losing. Elements of it that may appear to be stream of conscious are there to give the reader an insight into how the old man is thinking. It may not necessarily be sequential which can be confusing. Which in many ways mirrors the line of thought of people. People don’t necessarily think in a straight line.

      • Agree with your comments. And from an analysis perspective, it does not mean this is a poorly constructed story because every short story element used in a narrative by a good writer contributes to crafting the story’s themes.

    • 1.What are the three things the old man resents which made him travel alone?

  • What to they mean by pakeha kehuas in the story?

  • What is the tone and setting of the story

  • Can you tell me the facts which set up the moods of the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      For me there are three instances which set the mood. Firstly when the old man is setting out to go to the Council office. He is optimistic and in control. He knows what he has to do. Then when the old man is in the Council office. Things change when he is talking to the man in the office. It is as though the old man realises he is not in control anymore. Something that is further highlighted by the fact that the old man kicks the desk. Finally when the old man is at home he is somewhat reflective and when he looks at his hands realises he is powerless.

  • Can you tell me the setting of this story?

  • Hi can you list down a few literary techniques that were used in this story?

  • May i know what the language and imagery is for this short story

  • May I please know how many characters are there in this story and their names?

  • What is the general meaning of this story?

    • The old man who is the main character. The reader is positioned to view him as an empathetic character because of the post-colonial disempowerment he suffers from. He is simply known to the reader as “the old man” or the familial respectful “Uncle”. Then there is Paul, an official, who represents those with power over the land acquisition and development decisions.

  • Nice analysis, good read. Thanks!

  • What does the bathroom symbolises?

  • You are really a blessing thank you so much I have literally covered all my short stories for my exams through your analysis’. Thank you so much

  • Thank you very much. God bless you.

  • Can you please tell me the quotation that proves “change” in this story.

  • Thanks you’re a life saver.

  • Can you please tell me how the tone of resentfulness is portrayed in this story?

  • can you plz give me 3 examples of change in the story

  • So in the exam can we give three examples of change in the story: The change of the cities landscape over matter of time. Powerless in decision making to make changes over his land. Changes of laws and ways of thinking

  • where in the story is feet related imaginary

  • You and all your analyses are absolutely amazing. I will be appearing for my IGCSE examinations soon. Do you have any essay writing tips in general? While writing my answer, what should I keep in mind to score the highest possible grade?

  • how does grave show change in the story?

  • It’s been a while since I read the story but here is what I remember. The old man is making his way into town by train to sort out some of his property so that his family can live on the land. However things don’t go as planned and the council allocate him some different land. Something which displeases the the old man who gets angry and ends up kicking a desk. If anything it is a story of man versus the system with the man losing. Elements of it that may appear to be stream of conscious are there to give the reader an insight into how the old man is thinking. It may not necessarily be sequential which can be confusing. Which in many ways mirrors the line of thought of people. People don’t necessarily think in a straight line.

  • Why are there no quotation marks throughout the story?

  • Thank you for this analysis. My Literature Board examination is tomorrow and this really helped with a quick revision. Thanks agian .

  • How does the title relate to the story?

    • I mean the title ‘Journey’. It probably wouldn’t refer to his journey to the city office.

      • Dermot (Post Author)

        It could relate to the old man’s journey into the city. It could also relate to how things have changed over the years for the old man. Once he was strong and in control. Now he is old and answerable to others.

  • hi where is conflict shown in the story

  • Could you please help me with this question:-
    How the opening 2 paragraph and ending paragraph from”they were quite wondering if he would say anything” reflects the uncle’s change of mood?


  • Thank you so much. It’s not easy to find sites with short story analysis and especially one that is thoroughly analysed. 😀

  • Hey, you have a very clear and good analysis there but I have a problem with the Different beliefs about the land with the pakehas and Maoris

  • What the metaphorical meaning and literary meaning in the story.?

  • I would like to know the old man’s story

  • How does Patricia Grace explore the character of the old man in the story ‘Journey’

  • Thanks, I have my board exams in a few hours and this really helped!

  • can you state the quotes that you used for the theme of change please

  • What are the different points that make up the theme of change?
    Like can you please give me different examples of the theme of change in this story that can be formatted into an essay?
    Hopefully the reply will come ASAP.
    Thanks in advance.

  • Can you please help me by answering this question please? What do you learn about New Zealand society on page 323?

  • Hi, can you give me some quotes in the story which could be easy to analyse

  • Dermot, You are living incarnation of God! Nobody can write analysis like you do. Really been helping me with my studies.

    (Been here since you wrote the analysis of ‘The Lemon Orchard’)


  • Hey Dermot!
    One quick question.
    what is the significance of the title ‘Journey’
    is there any deeper meaning behind it?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I would say the title of the story is important. It can take on two meanings. One being the physical journey the old man makes to the town and secondly the passing of time that has occurred and the old man not being able to use the land.

  • Can you briefly explain this story in 400 words

  • To what extent did the officials listen to the old man? Find examples and quotes to support your point of view. What tone are the officials’ remarks made in?

  • what is the structure of it

  • Can you give an example of how people are imposing their way of life on others as being superior in the story?

  • Thanks a lot! 🙂

  • is it third person omniscient or limited

  • hey, what is the genre of the story?

  • Could you please tell me about the political background, historical background, geographical background and cultural background.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Maori’s land was taken by white European settlers or colonizers in the 1800s (I think) and they imposed their will on the Maoris.

  • Hi,thank you for the analysis,I would just add that the old man seems to be in inner or personal conflict after a series of other conflicts: with Paul the government official,with his nieces and nephews, and with the city planners who definitely represent the government. He is frustrated and in a state of resignation and this makes him a very pathetic figure hence bringing out the writers soul intention-Grace is sarcastic towards the government.

    Thank you.

  • Hi. Can you please explain to me what the old man means by “equal land” and what exactly does the land mean to the man.

  • What are the literary devices used in the introduction of the story

  • How does Grace present old age in her short story, Journey?

  • In what ways does Grace make the old man such a memorable character in ‘Journey’

  • Hi. Thank you for the summary it was really helpful. My questions are, if you could kindly answer it, who are the people in the house at the end of the story? And why is there this rather pertinent repetition on anything the old man says or thinks? Thank you in advance

  • What is the main conflict if the story?

  • Thank you for this analysis; it genuinely helped me gain a more detailed outlook on the story’s content and the message. I have a few questions that, perhaps, you may be able to clear for me:

    1. Can ‘Man Vs. Change’ be a theme or can we simply consider ‘change’ as the principal theme?

    2. When the old man returns home, are the people he talked with his family? Were those people the nieces and the nephews?

    3. What does he mean when he says ‘Burn me up, I tell you, it’s not safe in the ground’? Is he referring to how the societal change and advancement has made him powerless to the point where he wants to die?

    I hope I am not asking for much; thank you.

  • How is the story a physical as well as a psychological journey?

  • What does the old man call European people?

  • which places has the protagonist taken us through the story till the the office

  • Make a list of the places that the anonymous protagonist sees in his journey to the office of the Land claimers . It should be arranged as a list in sequence.

  • Is the old man pessimistic in the journey ?
    If yes can u elaborate how plzz..
    Thanks in advance

  • 1) Way Grace uses narrative point of view in “Journey” Way these choices reinforce the purpose of the story

    2) Comment on the overall style, diction, and use of language by Patricia Grace in her short story “Journey”. What is the effect of her choice of diction and style?

    Please answer these are my only 2 questions for today

  • Other than finding a home for his family and powerless what else did the old man do to make the reader feel sympathetic

  • How does grace sadly depict the old man

  • Who are the major and minor characters in the story? And what are they like?

  • Do you think Grace had a history with this story

  • What techniques are been used when the old man goes to talk about his land for the first time?

  • Nice analysis. Pls can I know how the sadness is brought out from the story

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