- When they are out for dinner, Jeffries asks Anna, “Do you always wear black?” (17).
Although she does not come from England, Anna is white, so her entourage assumes she is an immaculate English Lady. It is only when she opens her mouth that they realize how at odds she is with her appearance. Anna has voiced this many times, she wishes she were black; she held her black maids in very high regard. This admiration for people that the society she lives in value as lesser, causes a clash of standards with the white people she comes into contact with. That’s why Jeffries asking her if she always wears black is ironic, because she wishes she could.
- Anna’s description of the waiter and Jeffries reveals her attitude: “Their noses were exactly alike, their faces very solemn. The Brothers Slick and Slack, the Brothers Pushmeofftheearth” (17-18).
Anna does not buy into the act that the English around her try to show off. To her they are all the same; conceited, selfish, phony and pretentious. To her, all of this is rather dull and she can’t help but mock their lack of originality. She does not enjoy being in the company of such bores.
- The description of the restaurant reveals many significant symbols: “There was a red-shaded lamp on the table, and heavy pink silk curtains over all the windows. There was a hard, straight-backed sofa, and two chairs with curved legs against the wall—all upholstered in red” (18).
- Throughout the novel Anna compares people to animals. Looking at the matron praying in the restaurant, she says she is “[j]ust like a rabbit, she was, like a blind rabbit” (19).
It is often said that religion enables a better vision of the world; Anna seems to disagree. She speaks of a praying matron as a blind rabbit, believes that there is something horrible in any sort of praying. A rabbit can be seen as weak and innocent, which is often how women are depicted. Anna sees the matron as a blind rabbit; blinded by the religion that claims to provide a clear view of the world that you live in.
- In response to Anna’s admission that she only makes thirty-five bob a week, Jeffries says, “Good God. [. . .] You surely can’t manage on that, can you?” (19).
To Walter, and most of the men in England during that time, women were regarded as weak individuals, unable to take care of themselves and therefor in need of someone to do so. His remark on the fact that she does not have a lot of money shows that he thinks of her as a child, in need of guidance and instruction from a man, such as himself.
- While Anna and Jeffries are talking about clothes, Anna daydreams about a line from a book: “She wore black. Men delighted in that sable colour, or lack of colour” (19).
She daydreams of a fictional place where women who ‘wear’ black are a delight to men. We know that the fact that Anna wears black is symbolic; she wishes she were black. She dreams of a place where she is accepted as her true identity, even better yet, were people delight in it.
- While Jeffries is kissing Anna, her mind is somewhere else: “all the time he was kissing me I was thinking about the man at that supper-party at the Greyhound” (20).
- The fact that Anna’s thoughts are in italics while entering the bedroom highlight their importance: “You can now and you can see what it’s like, and why not?” (20).
It almost seems as if she is trying to convince herself, as though she is not quite ready but wants to be and therefore must convince herself that she is.
Charlotte Lapointe and Lissom Huang