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Girls Of Slender Means Essay Research Paper

Girls Of Slender Means Essay, Research Paper

Joanna s and Jane s lifestyles.

The Girls of Slender Means by Murial Spark is a novel

about the girls who lived in the May of Teck Club during the

year of 1945. There are many characters involved, but the

one s who caught my attention the most are Jane Wright and

Joanna Childe. They represent different aspects of ideas,

lifestyles and, also, have different perspectives on the

World of Books.

Joanna Childe was the daughter of a country rector. She

was very intelligent, had …strong obscure emotions (8),

and …religious strength (165). She was very well

build. Joanna Childe was large… (9), … fair and

healthy-looking… (22). She had light shiny hair, blue

eyes and deep-pink cheeks. She never used a scrap of

make-up because she didn t really care about her looks and

she wasn t looking for a husband either.

Jane Wright, on the other hand, was very fat and felt

miserable about it. She tried to blame her work for her

appetite. …[she] was miserable about her fatness and

spent much of her time in eager dread of the next meal, and

in making resolutions what to eat of it and what to leave,

and in making counter-resolutions in view of the fact

that her work at the publisher s was essentially mental,

which meant that her brain had to be fed more than most

people s (35-36). Unlike Joanna, Jane …was on the

look-out for a husband,… (32) since she was only twenty

two years old.

Joanna s and Jane s occupations evolved around the

world of books. However, they had different perspectives

about it. Jane worked for a publisher and Joanna attended

a school of drama to be a teacher of elocution. Jane

thought of the publishing business as …essentially

disinterest[ing] (39), while Joanna chose her profession

because of her love for poetry. …poetry, especially the

declamatory sort, excited her and possessed her; she would

pounce on the stuff, play with it quivering in her mind, and

when she had got it by heart, she spoke it forth with

devouring relish (8). Joanna was highly thought of for it

and Jane …was considered to be brainy but somewhat below

standard, socially, at the May of Teck (19).

Both women were similar in that they did additional

work besides the one s mentioned above. Joanna had students

of her own whom she taught how to speak properly, with no

accent. Joanna s method was to read each stanza herself

first and make her pupil repeat it. (21). Jane had several

kinds of …brain-work (41). First and secretly, she

wrote poetry of a strictly non-rational order, in which

occurred, in about proportion of cherries in a cherry-cake,

certain words that she described as of a smouldering

nature , such as loins and lovers, the root, the rose, the

seawrack and the shroud. Secondly and secretly, she wrote

letters of a friendly tone but with a business intention,

under the auspices of the pale foreigner. Thirdly and more

openly, she sometimes did a little work in her room which

overlapped from her day s duties at the small publisher s

office (41-42). Besides the work she had to do in the

publisher s office, she was doing some detective work on new

authors. She was supposed to hang out with them, find their

weak spots and report them to her boss, who would use this

information to lower the price of the author s book.

From how Joanna was described in the novel, we can see

that she liked the past more than the present. She wanted

to preserve the old traditions she grew up with. The

example of that would be her love life. When she fallen in

love with the first curate, he didn t return her feeling and

she …had decided that this was to be the only love of her

life (22). She didn t return the feelings of the second

curate, who loved her, because she had …the notion that a

nice girl should only fall in love once in her life (23).

Another example would be her ideas about the Prayer Book.

Nancy Riddle, one of Joanna s students, mentioned that the

Prayer Book was …out of date (99) to which Joanna

answered: The Prayer Book is wonderful. There was a new

version got up in 1928, but Parliament put it out. Just as

well, as it happened (101). It is obvious that she wanted

to leave everything just as it was before.

Probably that is the reason why Joanna died at the end

of the book. After the bomb exploded, the fireworkers were

trying to rescue girls, who were trapped in the club from

the window at the roof. Joanna was the last to climb, but

she …stooped to pick up the tape-measure which was lying

on the floor (100). Unfortunately, the house sank

into its centre, a high heap of rubble, and Joanna went with

it (161). I think that, subconsciously, she didn t want to

leave the club because she knew that everything would change

afterwards. She didn t want to be a part of the future

because she was afraid of changes.

Jane, however, wanted to live, to survive. Despite her

fatness, she wanted to be like everyone else. She wasn t

afraid of her future. She knew that she can survive in the

harsh, modern world no matter what. And, in fact, she did

survived and became a women columnist later.

In my opinion, Jane Wright and Joanna Childe were the

most interesting characters in the book. Although they

lived in the same time (after the second world war) and in

the same place, they had different lifestyles. The only

similarity between them was that they were using books for

their occupations.

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