L204 Paper 1
Lee Anne Bache
7 June 2013
In A.S. Byatt's The Thing in the Forest, it seems as though Primrose has moved on from the childhood trauma to which she and Penny were exposed. The two girls grow up in very dissimilar ways: Penny finding ways to mask her trauma, and Primrose extroverting herself to cope with it. The text suggests that extroversion is a healthier coping method than masking. Byatt’s characters Penny and Primrose have many similarities, yet their differences are what shape the way they will deal with the trauma they experience as children. In the text, we learn that Penny “[is] thin and dark and taller, possibly older.” (Byatt 3) Her name along with her description of being thin and dark can relate her to currency. Throughout the text, we are given examples that lead us to believe Penny lives a more materialistic life. We learn that she goes to college for developmental psychology. (Byatt 10) She values the finer things like education and professional attire. Penny works hard to cover up trauma, much like a child puts their change (or pennies) in their piggy bank to save up for something they want. She is described as a “good student,” (Byatt 10) so suggestively, her coping mechanisms would correlate with the approach of a scholar. Scholars often deal with their stressors internally as they view their failures to be self-inflicted. On the other hand, Primrose, who is not a scholar, takes a different approach. She is initially described as “plump and blond and curly.” (Byatt 3) Her bright and plump stature represents joy and comfortableness. Her assortment of jobs are all those where an extrovert would thrive. With the evidence of these jobs, we can assume she is an extrovert, and would deal with internal stressors in that manner. Primrose’s name relates to a flower, or rose, that blooms early. When the main characters meet again as grown women, we see that Primrose has moved on, or bloomed, from the trauma of seeing the...
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