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Behind the scenes at the museum- English Literature revision

Chapter sumeries/ quotes for English Lit revision

Hannah Souter

on 11 June 2011

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Transcript of Behind the scenes at the museum- English Literature revision

Behind the Scenes at the museum Chapter One- conception 1951 characters introduced Ruby is concieved setting introduced- York Minster Ruby as a narrator Ruby at times can be seen as an omniscient first person narrator she has knowledge of before she was born, "The clock once belonged to my great-grandmother” The novel Bildungsroman Dual narrative Consists of non consecutive flashbacks- enables the reader to gain a 3 dimentional perspective She is also aware of what is happening to other characters. "The conception has left Bunty feeling irritable." Ruby tells the story from her own point of view,
but at times she is a third person narrator, who stands
outside the action and describes event in a detached, objective manner. “Bunty cooks porridge, makes toast and boils eggs.” Unreliable narration The reader at times might question the reliability of Ruby’s narration. During chapter 4, her unreliability is indicated through gaps in the narrative, as Ruby seems to
and asks "know nothing of the journey" "why am I here?" . The most obvious gap in the narrative relates to Pearl. Ruby totally represses her memory of Pearl’s death. Ruby misunderstands when Bunty’s cries , retorting,

these gaps in Ruby’s knowledge could show Ruby’s confusion with her identity, that by losing Pearl, she has lost part of herself, and her identity. “My Gillian, My pearl” “surely it’s me that’s the jewel of the family?” "I exist" "Why didn't anyone tell me what it would be like? The cooking! The cleaning! The work!" context- In the 50's household tasks were harder then today, without the introduction of modern appliances. This was largely because of the economic impact of WW2 on the comsumer market which did not properly recover until the late 1950's. The English electric washing machine was something that became popular in the 1950's. Chapter 2- birth 1952 footnotes!! Ruby is born Bunty does not seem interested Nurse and doctor react to Ruby and Pearl, hinting that there is a twin “My name is Ruby Lennox. I am a precious jewel. I am a drop of blood” Continually mentioned throughout, "Jewel" has connotations of something valuable, her identity is valuable to her, she is precious. "drop of blood" links to genetics, and maybe shows that she is unimportant in society, just a "drop" in the scheme of things. “Her eyes avoid me” "Snap!" "Hel-lo what do we have here?" docters/midwife's reactions "Looks like a piece of meat. Take it away." Proleptic irony, reader is given clues which might give away the revelation in chapter 11 that Ruby has a twin: Pearl. Links to Kate Atkinson's background of crime fiction, reader is an active participant, and has to guess future events. Context- The narrator contradict s the 1950’s view that childbirth was natural for women as we are given the impression that Bunty is not interested or attached to her child. sophisticated voice from the womb. Chapter 3- coronation 1953 It is the queen's coronation in 1953 and the lennoxes have people round to watch it. Ruby bangs her head and sees double. She witnesses George and Auntie Eliza together in the garden at night, when she goes downstairs looking for mobo (the toy rocking horse). “If you blinked twice, you would almost think there was 2 of me” Proleptic irony, could be hinting at the fact that she has a twin, or at future events- the revelaion. “For some reason there was seventy two of me” (photos) hinting to the fact that Ruby had a sister. Chapter 4- the naming of things Ruby is sent to Dewsbury to stay with Auntie Babs after the death of Pearl.
She doesn't understand why she is there, thinks it is a form of punishment.
She goes to a church reading with a ouija board, Mr wedgewood sends her a message from her sister. "I remember nothing about the journey" Disjointed sentence structure around this area, use of ellipses denote a disjointed emotional state at this point. This demonstrates the unreliability of narration. "Auntie Babs turns back to me with a bright artificial smile that I recognise because it's Bunty's" links to the women of the novel being disatisfied with thier lives, and genetics. 'Kate Atkinson's style of narration is erudite' "I cofirm my existance to myself with a growing sense of panic- My name is Ruby Lennox, I am a precious Jewel, I am a drop of blood." confirms identity in panic, identity is important. "images of teddy getting ripped to pieces" thinks there is "a handful of small crocodiles and a small dragon" living under the bed Kate Atkinson employs the use of magical realism to show her childish imagination, sinister imagery is used to indicate a troubled mind. "your sister says not to worry about her." "I don't know anybody who is dead (how wrong I am)" Proleptic irony is used here, gives reader a hint about Pearl. Parenthesis used to give a double perspective and almosts confides in the reader. Context- in the 1950's it would have been more acceptable to send children away as a form of punishment. "We cannot claim to have the first television set in the street (..) But we are runners up". context- having the 2nd television of the street is a sign of changing times and a revolution in the media. Chapter 6- snow feathers The family all sit down for a dinner and then set off for a pantomime
There is a lot of tension between Bunty and George, George seems to deliberately pick a fight.
Gillian is run over outside the theatre whilst they are waiting for a taxi.
Bunty’s aspirations are shown.
Ruby feels like the scapegoat of the family. “I have been the scapegoat of this house” The child” derogative. Bunty referred to as “Bunt”- stripped of her identity. “She pushes her hair back from her forehead in a centuries old genetic gesture of suffering” “The English electric washing machine on the humming refrigerator.” Context- Women’s roles are changing at this point, with the introduction of household appliances. The English electric washing machine was something that became popular in the 1950's. The impact of ww2 on the consumer market did not properly recover until the late 1950's. Links to women's continual disatisfaction with thier lives- genetics. "It's christmas eve when Gillian pays the price for all those golden-blonde curls" Gillian has the cherub gene, meaning she will have an untimely death. like Albert, Ada, and others in the novel. Chapter 7- Fire! Fire! The family go and visit Gillian buried
There is a fire and 'above the shop' burns down including the pets.
'Rags' the dog survives.
Patricia takes on the maternal role in the fire, helping Ruby. “her ’My Gillian, my pearl’ routine” "wrapping me in the shelter of her dressing gowned arms and, for once, the invisible cord between us shrivels and shirrs". This metaphor symbolises the gap between Bunty and Ruby and that they were always apart. Here we see Bunty's maternal side which is rare in this novel. The gap between Bunty and Ruby could signify where Pearl should be, and maybe forshadows the revelation to the reader. Ruby is still dismissive of Bunty's grief, she does not really understand or have sympathy for her. The lowercase letter 'p' shows that she does not understand and beleives that Bunty is calling Gillian a pearl. This could also hint at the reader about the revelation. Chapter 9- Holiday! 1964 The loch "creates a feeling of unease and if I get too near the edge I begin to think it's trying to suck me into endless blackness" "It reminds me of something, but what?" "And then- and this is dreadful- suddenly I begin to scream, a fearful scream of despair that rises up from the bottomless loch deep inside me." "my own bottomless loch of lonliness" They go on a holiday to Scotland with thier neibours, the Ropers.
Bunty and Clive Roper are caught at it on the kitchen table.
Ruby becomes frightened of the water.
Patricia is pregnant and has to give up the baby for adoption.
She leaves home at the end of this chapter. She is disatisfied with life like other women in the novel, could be a metaphor for the empiness she feels without Pearl, or symbolise the gap in her memory. Her memories of Pearl resurfacing in other forms. The disjointed sentence structure reflects her disjointed emotional state at this point. Water reminds her of Pearl's death. Chapter 10- Wedding Bells 1966 It is Ted and Sandra's wedding the same day as the world cup final.
Ruby takes tranquilisers.
Lucy-Vida is pregnant, she keeps the baby.
All the med watch the worl cup final, Sandra becomes annoyed.
Ruby witnesses George having sex with a waitress.
He then dies of a heart attack. "Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?" "I'm fourteen and already I've 'had enough'." "I feel like Alice when she grew tall" "Losing so many sisters" "resembles an epileptic penguin" Reference to 'que sera sera' a song, fatalist. Daisy and Rose say this to Ruby that people feel sorry for her, Ruby does not understand and refuses to listen. This is a reference to Pearl. Humor- George and the waitress. Reference to Alice in wonderland, she feels trapped? This could also create humor as it shows how tall she is compared with the other bridesmaids. Disatisfied with her life already. Chapter 11- Wisdom 1968 Ruby tries to kill herself.
She still sleepwalks, on some level searching for Pearl.
She is having panic attacks.
Use of dark humor.
Bernard Belling (Bunty's new boyfriend) tells Ruby what happened with Pearl.
Ruby goes to therapy to uncover her memories of Pearl. "I unscrew the top of the bottle of tablets cramming them into my mouth like a greedy duck." "the tiny saw teeth of bread knived and the soothing edges of razor blades" "when we die, we are taken to a great lost property cupboard where all things we have ever lost have been kept for us" "Pearl likes to laugh, shes all light and sunshine compared to my dark brooding." Violent imagery, narrative voice contrasts from early chapters. Ruby and Pearl compliment each other. A metaphor for her lost memories? her innocence now she is a young adult, and her dreams which have faded. Chapter 12- Broken English 1970 Ruby finishes her A-levels and goes to work at a hotel in Edinburgh.
She is going to go to Exeter university, but fails her history A-level as the teacher forgets to teach some of the syllabus.
She marries Gian-carlo Benedetti.
Patricia gets in contact from Austraila.
Ruby's marriage does not work out and she leaves Gian-carlo Benedetti. "The Rest Of Our Lives" This is repeated throughout the chapter, capital letters show the importance of this, Ruby is now free after the revelation in chapter 11 to experience 'the rest of her life'. "Nut brown skin" "I am Ruby Lennox once more." Ruby did not feel like herself whilst married to mr Benedetti, at the end of the chapter she finds her true identity again. "I was leading the wrong life" Like Alice, in the novel, disatisfied with lives. Same discription as jack keech, described by Nell. Chapter 13- Redemption 1992 Bunty gets alzheimers disease, she becomes confused with her identity.
Bunty and Ruby spend a lot of time together, Ruby looking after Bunty.
Bunty dies.
Ruby does not know how to react to Bunty's death
Patricia and Ruby go and visit york again.
Ruby becomes translator and a poet, she lives in Edinburgh. "Much of her confusion centres on people identities" "Our days together speed past, eaten up by housework, shopping, cooking, little trips to the park." "I can still remember her when she was tall, now she's like a doll" "I realize that she'll akways be here, inside me." Identity is important to Ruby so this is a trajic way for her mother to go. Ruby and Bunty bond more then they did when she was young, Ruby acts more like the mother. Frailty of human life, simile of doll sounds fragile. footnote (i) Country idyll Alice’s story (Ruby’s great gran) Alice has a ‘realisation’ that she has been living the wrong life.
Ruby is the narrator.
Alice is dissatisfied with marriage like most women in the novel. Repetition of “this woman” (page 30) creates a monotonous feel reflecting Alice’s life or that she is insignificant as he name is not mentioned. “another woman, lost through time” metaphor, links to history and memories. Alice and Frederick’s relationship is similar to that of George and Bunty’s, they are dissatisfied with marriage. Footnote (iv) 4 Bonny birds Rachel is Alice’s cousin.
Alice runs away (with a photographer)
Rachel takes over as the wife and mother.
The children are: Ada, Lawrence, Albert, Tom. Rachel has a baby called Samuel, he dies.
Ada dies of diphtheria.
Lawrence runs away to sea. Frederick (husband) dies of hypothermia. (about children)”That the foolish wife had left behind” “Wiped the sweat from her face with the back of her hand” Marriage more for practicality then love. Samuel has the “Cherub gene” the reader might see that he is going to have an untimely death. Footnote (v) 5 Rain Nell’s story. Her son Ted (Ruby’s uncle ted) takes her to a boarding house.
She reminisces about her honeymoon in the lakes with Frank in 1919.
A hornet flies in the room and Frank acts cowardly.
Idea of loss explored, the women don’t just lose children, and they lose husbands. “He was dancing round the room like a namby-pamby.” “Percy would have dealt with the hornet no bother” - Nell is dissatisfied with marriage like other women in the novel. “Nell thought about Jack and his beautiful skin like polished walnut” She daydreams whilst with ted, similar to other characters in the novel who daydream as they are not satisfied with their lives. (Alice in country idyll, ruby imagining things, Bunty Footnote (vi) Sunday school outing Bunty is going on a Sunday school outing to Scarborough.
All get on the train but Bunty behind by herself on the platform and she wets herself.
There are signs of Nell having a mental breakdown when she is cooking and not noticing the ingredients are ‘flowing over the edge like a white milky waterfall’
Mrs Reeves blames Bunty for being left behind "a strange silence descended on the station , a silence full of wretched disappointment" - This disappointment is reflected throughout her life for example her dissatisfaction with marriage and wanting to live another life. Bunty was’ looking forward to sobbing out her misery into a familiar pair of arms’ however she met a ‘disturbing sight’. Reiterates Bunty’s views that her life is a disappointment.
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