How Is the Relationship Between Stephen and Isabelle Started and Developed in Part One of Birdsong?

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How is the relationship between Stephen and Isabelle started and developed in Part one of Birdsong? Part one of Birdsong begins in France 1910 which involves young Englishman Stephen Wraysford coming to Amiens to learn more about the textile industry and to stay with the Azaire family. This sets the context and is relevant as it is a period of industrial and civil unrest. The novel is written in the third person and Stephen’s presence allows for an outsider’s view of the family with him not stating his opinion and being neutral between sides.

From the start there’s a mutual attraction between Stephen and Isabelle. Stephen finds this in some assets of Isabelle’s character firstly when Isabelle comments on a beautiful piece of music she has heard, Bérard then attempts to belittle her but she puts him aside with a look. “Stephen watched as Madame Azaire turned her head slowly so that her eyes met those of Bérard. He saw them open wider as they focused on his smiling face of which perspiration stood out in the still air of the dining room” Stephen admires this and cannot believe she is the mother of Lisette and Grégoire. Stephen finds a certain trust in Isabelle as she seems to be discrete unlike the characteristics of Azaire. He thinks that secrets will be kept safe with her.

Stephen hears the sob and pleading of a woman and is sure that it is Isabelle however he returns to his room with no cause of action despite his “sense of confused anger”. Stephen thinks he could be the one to save her from violence. This shows his emotions developing for Isabelle as “He saw, with some surprise, that what had struck him most he had not written about at all”.

Azaire demonstrates a patriarchal influence as he treats his work and Isabelle with the same heavy-handedness and this shows his desire to rule in both his public and private life. Azaire seems to be too traditional, old and contemporary for Isabelle. With the violence, an unhappy marriage and a lot of time spent with...
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