“You’ve got to pick at it, keep it alive and in turmoil, you’ve got to pick at it and unravel it until it all comes apart and you’re compelled to start all over again. Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship.”
Honor Brown hates, absolutely hates school. It’s horrible--there are monsters and petrifying teachers. The students are crooks and pirates and everyone is so mean! They throw them out of windows and make them walk on glass. It’s so, so horrible, but what happens when it’s over?
Equating willfulness with being special, the child then confronts other themes of life such as eternity and loneliness. The cat declares that he is immortal. The girl concludes that they are both willful. As the girl identifies with the cat they discuss some of life’s themes. Loneliness is seen in the mailman and dog. The girl attempts to show empathy, but the cat will have none of that. He does not show compassion and is irritated that the girl will not follow his lead in being pitiless.
‘Sid’ll be back,’ said Bill Sparrow. ‘We might as well have tea.’ ‘No,’ said her mother. ‘Where’s Peggy?’ asked Amy. ‘She is upstairs. She doesn’t want any tea. And don’t ask any more questions.’ As his wife stood making the tea, Bill Sparrow massaged her shoulder. He did this when she complained of back-ache.”
From the strength of her own grief and her desperation over how quickly people fall back into their everyday routines as soon as they have overcome their first panic, Janna-Berta develops an enormous will to resist “normalcy”.
“Malusi liked doing things slowly. He sang a little after he had pulled on this T-shirt. He played a little and then he put in his shoes - his tackies. There were very old tackies. When they were new they had belonged to Mongi.”