The Thing In The Forest Byatt Analysis

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The character Penny is a protagonist in Byatt’s story “The Thing in the Forest”, and is presented in two lives or stages: childhood and adulthood. As a little girl, Penny is described as “thin and dark and taller, probably older than Primrose, and had a bloodless transparent paleness with a touch of blue in her lips” (Byatt 3). In the later stages of the story, Penny is described as having a “transparent face that had lost detail – cracked lipstick, fine lines of wrinkles – and looked both younger and greyer, less substantial” (Byatt 12). This later description can be taken as a representation of the battering from life that Penny had taken from the encounter with the thing to separation and placement with strange families, a predicament shared by Primrose who now had the same …show more content…

Byatt posits that “the girls discussed whether their sending off was a sort of holiday or punishment, both as they had ideas that they were not very good children” (4). After the encounter with the thing Penny aspirations are to help children who find themselves in similar life threatening circumstances. Penny grew up to be a child psychologist and Messud of The New York Times observes that “it was the encounter with the Thing that had led her to deal professionally in dreams …” As a therapist, Penny wanted to be better placed to confront the terrifying encounter, not just for themselves, but also for others. This caring nature of Penny is evident throughout the story from the moment they share a chocolate and an apple with Primrose on the train, and their constant patronizing. For instance, during the visit to the forest where they encountered the thing, Penny tells Alys, the smallest child in the group that vainly tried to attach themselves to Penny and Primrose, “you’re too little, you must stay here,… it is for your own good”

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