Analysis of Quotes I for Isobel for AOS1 Reading & Creating Texts

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Quotes below can be used as evidence in analytical essay interpretation of I For Isobel

Chapter & Page #



1 – p.1 “No birthday presents this year!” May Callaghan.  The significance of this statement in the second line of chapter 1 is to show from the very beginning of the novel how dominant May Callaghan is and the extent of her vindictive power and control she wields over Isobel.  The abuse of Isobel is integral to understanding her struggle as an alienated artist figure.
1 – p.7 “Birthdays, injustices, parents all vanished”. Isobel as narrator.  When Isobel reads Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes she reads to affect an imaginary escape from reality.  The promise of pleasure offered by books counters the unhappiness and deprivations of family life.  The world in her books does not contain personal hardship.
1 – p.15 “It was a present for a real girl”. Isobel as narrator.  Mr Mansell gives Isobel a brooch for her birthday even though she receives no presents from her own parents.  The present represents something a normal, caring parent would give to a child.  At the time Isobel does not completely grasp how different her mother is from other more nurturing mothers.  The emphasis on “real girl” suggests that Isobel does not fit the social requirements of the era due to her parent’s abuse.
1 – p.17 “In one way or another, she would be wearing it all her life”. Isobel as narrator.  Two interpretations of the brooch’s significance.  Firstly, May Callaghan’s reaction to Mr Mansell’s gift of the brooch becomes for Isobel an important awakening.  Even after May slaps Isobel she does not take the brooch which Isobel realises that there are things her mother cannot do.  The brooch is the first step towards her possession of self and power a tiny triumph over her mother.  Secondly, that the brooch is a metaphor for the effects of May Callaghan’s abuse on Isobel’s life.  The long term effects of the abuse are detrimental to Isobel’s whole life.
2 – p.20 “Half the time you don’t know what you’re talking about”. May Callaghan.  Her insistent scepticism about Isobel telling the truth leads Isobel to doubt her own mind.  The constant doubt in turn affects Isobel’s tone of voice.  The complex relationship between what is said and the way it is said is central to many of Isobel’s challenges and dilemmas.  Isobel is constantly trying to decipher what is said in order to grasp the underlying truth.
2 – p.23 “There was no living without the moments”. Isobel as narrator.  Isobel’s vivid imagination serves as a powerful survival tool throughout her traumatic childhood and subsequent tumultuous transition into adulthood.  The imaginary friends in Isobel’s ‘moments’ and the books she reads sustains her each night in bed from the reality of the restrictions and conflicts of her daily life.  In fact she is more at ease with her imaginary friends than the flesh and blood people she meets.
3 – p.34 “… the state of grace”. Isobel as narrator.  The ‘state of grace’ is an inner, psychological state that Isobel experiences throughout this chapter.  She aspires to a condition of saint-like tranquillity refusing to be upset by any emotional disturbance and anger of her mother.  May Callaghan wants Isobel to scream but keeping silent is more torture for May as she is powerless.  What ends the ‘state of grace’ is the ripping of the hand-me-down dress.  This is a low point in Isobel’s well being.
3 – p.35 “Then she saw that her mother’s anger was a live animal tormenting her”. Isobel as narrator.  The emotional abuse and power of May Callaghan’s rage was an inner psychotic mental illness that took joy in abusing Isobel.  When Isobel sat silently not reacting her mother is deprived the thrill of the power over Isobel.
4 – p.83 “Isobel, as she listened, tried on each life to see how it would suit her”. Isobel as narrator.  After May Callaghan’s death and Isobel moves into Mrs Bower’s boarding house where she feels happy at her independence which might lead to greater self acceptance of herself.  She even considers taking on a new name and personality, someone poised serene and quietly self-confident traits obviously in direct contrast to her real personality.  At this point Isobel searches for a sense of identity by aspiring to be like other people.  However, as she thinks about other people’s lives in terms of her own uncertain identity she finds that their lives do not suit her at all.
4 – p.120 “Isobel had an idiot in the attic”. Isobel as narrator.  Isobel now perceives herself to have a kind of split personality to have an idiot in the attic or in type of mad reality in her mind.  This suggests that Isobel is at the mercy of irrational forces within herself that threaten her.  Isobel resists the instincts of the idiot and helps Madge move out of the boarding house.
5 – p.165 “And for those who hear nothing, the dead in life, her mother and Diana – you could shed a tear for them too”. Isobel as narrator.  Isobel realises that the person in her life most like Diana is her own mother, since they both resemble corpses in their rejection of life’s changes.  In contrast Isobel is determined to experience change and in leaving Mrs Bowers boarding house she starts on her journey of self discovery and is somewhat reconciled with the ghosts of her past.
5 – p.166 “… she had discovered a small authentic piece of her lost self”. Isobel as narrator.  Isobel’s memory of the sewing class is painful but she follows her own wishes rediscovering her pleasure in embroidery by discovering a piece of her lost self.  Isobel needs to revisit the key settings of her childhood to discover the real truth about who she is.
5 – p.177 “Artesian tears rising from the centre of the earth”. Isobel as narrator.  Once Isobel realises that the anxiety her parent’s caused her over the cat poem were totally false the cruelty of their deception strikes her emotions and her tears are able to finally flow.
5 – p.177 “I am a writer”. Isobel as narrator.  Once her tears are released Isobel gains a new sense of her own identity as a writer.  For Isobel an important point about writing is that compared to relationships or love, is that writing can be performed in solitude and the writing is her true self.  In order to make the self belief and identity real and tangible she buys an exercise book from the corner store to start her writing.
5 – p.181 “I met someone”. Isobel as narrator.  The last sentence of the novel signals an end to the internal tensions and divisions that characterise Isobel’s personality for so much of the novel.  The person she has ‘met’ is her own self and her joyful feeling is due to at last attaining a sense of unity and purpose.

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