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The Girl With Charlotte Smith Analysis

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Zadie Smith’s “The Girl with The Bangs” is a vivid account of a romantic relationship between two incompatible characters with vastly different personalities. Told from a first person perspective, it traces the narrator’s journey through an unusual relationship with the girl Charlotte, exploring what it is like “being a boy” – enthralled by a girl’s physical features and thus willing to tolerate any faults of any magnitude (188). His optimism and attraction to Charlotte eventually leads him to grief, where, blinded by their relationship, he is caught unawares and replaced by another boy. Yet, he also achieves an epiphany: that the relationship is built on irrational obsessions and motives and is thus ultimately unsustainable. Told in introspection,…show more content…
The room is described by the narrator as “a filthy cocoon” that “took you in and hold you close” (190). The image of a cocoon implies a sense of comfort, a covering that is both snug and protective. Yet, it is also isolating, disconnecting one from the outside world, and is difficult to break free from. Furthermore, this cocoon is “filthy”, filled with “rubbish” and where one loses track of time since there are “no clocks and [watches are] lost and buried” (190). It seems as if this cocoon clutches onto everything not even garbage and time can escape. Indeed, we see how as the narrator devotes an increasing amount of time with Charlotte, he becomes detached from his surroundings: he ignores his friends’ promptings and eventually progresses to a point where he is unaware of both time and location, that only today in introspection can he “recall that [they] were in [his] room” the day Maurice returns (197). Towards the end, the narrator describes how his clothes and Charlottes’ becomes “indistinguishable”, being “thrown over every chair” in the study room (191). Isolated and devoting so much time in this “cocoon” of the relationship, the narrator seems to lose part of his rational and orderly self and becomes more similar to the disorganized and anti-social Charlotte. The descriptions of Charlotte’s room and the imagery of the “cocoon” highlight this sense…show more content…
Throughout the story, the narrator continues to mention this image of him standing “[with] open arms” on a “cobbled street” in “a smoldering city” where he sees himself saving “a bundle of precious things [thrown] from a third-floor European window” that is Charlotte (189). The image of the “smoldering city” suggests an unfolding of some sort of disaster on a grand scale, perhaps a volcanic eruption or a war. The emphasis on the medieval aspects of the city, the “European window” and “cobbled streets” adds a fantastical sense to this image, suggesting that narrator is both exaggerating and romanticizing this relationship. Describing Charlotte as “a bundle of precious things” he happens to save, the narrator implies that he sees Charlotte as something special that only he can save because he is the person in the right place and time with “arms open” – accepting and willing to tolerate her faults. In introspection, the narrator claims that this vision is perhaps the result of having “watched too many films” (189), and suggests that he may have imagined himself of a hero of sorts who can save Charlotte from her eccentricities and anti-social behaviors. The repeated reference to this image throughout his time with Charlotte suggests that he believes in this vision, or at least attempts convince
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