‘QWERTYUIOP’ by Vivien Alcock is about a young graduate, Lucy Beck who has just finished her ‘O’ levels at Belmont Secretarial College. Being a slow typist, her principal has no confidence that she will find a job.
Fortunately, she is offered a job by Mr. Ross, the Manager of Ross and Bannister’s. On her first day in office, as she sets down to work, she encounters peculiar incidents . Later, she discovers the ghost of Miss Broome, a previous long-time secretary, who now haunts her typewriter.
Towards the end of the story, Lucy gets rid of the spirit, which is adamant in holding on to her position as the company’s secretary. She communicates with ‘Miss Broome’ through the typewriter and suggests that Mr. Bannister who has passed away needs her service ‘up there’ and bids her farewell.
1. The plot in the story comprises of the following :
A) EXPOSITION :
The main character Lucy Beck is introduced as an underachiever that even her principal of Belmont Secretarial College Mrs. Price has low expectations of her. Even her mother is shocked when Lucy gets the job as a secretary.
Lucy finds trouble typing her first letter as the typewriter keeps typing the wrong word ‘
QWERTYUIOP ‘ which is the top line of letters on the keyboard of a typewriter.
B) RISING ACTION :
She uses liquid paper to erase the mistakes but the typewriter keeps typing the words of
warning that is meant to scare Lucy away like the other new secretaries before her.
Lucy remembers bits and pieces of the warning given by the janitor Harry Darke. When she
realizes that she is dealing with the supernatural, Lucy gets up and runs to the door
However, she soon realizes that she needs to face up to her fears as she does not want to
continue living life as a poor person. She then goes back to her table to complete the letter.
C) CLIMAX :
The ghost of Miss Broome becomes angry when Lucy is adamant in staying as the new secretary. The ghost then rocks the electric typewriter making it scream and shake, snapping the keys of the machine like castanets.
Lucy ‘ fights ’ with the machine for a whole hour as she continuously attacks it using lots of correcting fluid. She tries to erase all the mistakes that the typewriter has produced.
D) FALLING ACTION :
Lucy’s letters that she manages to type out are accepted and signed by Mr. Ross. The next morning, Mr. Darke tells Lucy everything about the late Miss Broome. Lucy recognizes Miss Broome’s loneliness and desperate need to belong. She feels sympathetic towards Miss Broome who according to Mr. Darke, has no family that would own her.
The revelation of the feeling of loneliness and being unwanted leads her to understand Uncle Bert better. She realizes that he too is feeling lonesome and unwanted.
E) RESOLUTION :
Lucy calls a truce with Miss Broome when she shows her some kindness and com passion. Lucy tells her that Mr. Banister her boss truly values her and still needs her now that he has also passed on.
Lucy types a goodbye note for Miss Broome. Mr. Ross becomes very happy with Lucy’s work and Mr. Darke respects Lucy for her bravery in facing up to the ghost of Miss Broome.