‘It is a pretty house, isn’t it? It’s a pity it’s so big. I’m finding it rather large at the moment.’
‘We bought such a large house for children. We thought children might come along.’
‘I wanted to adopt, but Mr Lyons, he said he wanted a son of his own and not somebody else’s. Still, I think an adopted child can become one’s own.’
‘You mean you’re superstitious?’
‘My husband doesn’t come home until the beginning of July! He’d never know.’
‘What will you do for help in the house?’
‘The house is your domain.’
‘We both think it would be best if you left.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with my nerves.’
‘If we stay here, something terrible will happen. Something bad.’
- Mrs Lyons is lonely in her big house. Her husband works away for long periods of time and she longs for a child to love.
- She seems to need a child to fill the void in her marriage, and does not seem to have a guilty conscience about telling such a big lie to her husband, which would need to stay secret for the rest of their lives.
- There is a power imbalance in the Lyons’ marriage. She says that they both want to sack Mrs Johnstone, when he had said that it was her decision.
- Although the house is Mrs Lyons’ ‘domain’, she has to ask her husband for money and has to almost beg him when she wants to move house.
- Very soon after Edward is given to Mrs Lyons, she begins to resent Mrs Johnstone’s bond with him.
- Mrs Lyons is jealous and, with the narrator in the shadows, she deliberately plays on Mrs Johnstone’s superstitious beliefs.
- This can be seen as a turning point for Mrs Lyons, because she is unable to stop the twins from having a relationship. As she loses control, she becomes superstitious herself.
- Russell presents the Lyons as stereotypical examples of the middle classes. They have money, so they do not need to worry about paying the bills.
- Financially, they are protected from the political and social changes which cause so many problems for the working class.
- The pursuit of money comes first for the Lyons. Education and manners are also very important, which helps them to get well-paid, interesting jobs. Allowances are made when they make mistakes, which wouldn’t be given to working class people.
- The middle class lifestyle that Russell presents is quite isolating.
- They are separated from other people, in a big house, in an area that has fewer people. They are also more likely to move away from their families for work.
- In the 1950s and 1960s, it was still common for the husband to work while his wife stayed at home to look after the house and children.
- Mrs Lyons doesn’t work, but she has a cleaner, and no children.
- At first, we feel sorry for her, because she can’t have children and her husband is distant and unsupportive.
- Mr Lyons is mainly absent, as a husband and as a father.
- Mrs Lyons doesn’t have a job and there is no mention of any other family and friends, so she doesn’t seem to have much purpose in life.
- She wants a baby to fill the void in her life. Her big empty house could be seen as a metaphor for how she feels.
- Unfortunately, baby Edward cannot make everything in Mrs Lyons’ life better.
- It upsets her to see Mrs Johnstone’s natural maternal relationship with her son, so she sacks her and tries to keep the boys apart.
- As time passes, Mrs Lyons continues to be a cold mother. She makes sure Edward has a good education and everything money can buy, but she cannot understand, or meet his need for friendship and love.