This is a devastating and at times almost exaggerated critique of upper class society. The house and its occupants are ageing and falling apart. The slaughter of the pheasants is an apt metaphor for the privilege and waste of a landowning class which has outlived its purpose in society. And the mindless brutality of the Squire is a comic parody of the military tradition of which he is part.
The complicity of this class with its servants is neatly illustrated by the fact that Milly Masters is knitting a jersey for her son, who may well be the illegitimate offspring of the Squire.
The parts of the story are also tied together by a number of recurring motives – the curled claws and the eyes of the pheasants and those of the women in the story:
Old Miss Rashleigh filled her glass. As they sipped their eyes became lustrous like half-precious stones held to the light. Slate blue were Miss Rashleigh’s; Miss Antonia’s red, like port. And their laces and their flounces seemed to quiver, as if their bodies were warm and languid underneath their feathers as they drank.
It is interesting to note that the story was originally composed without the opening and closing paragraphs concerning Milly Masters which ‘frame’ the central sequence. This speculation over the identity of a woman on a train is an idea Virginia Woolf used more than once. Milly Masters cannot be pinned down sociologically at the outset of the story, but by the end of the narrative her unfashionable clothes, her monogrammed suitcase, and the brace of pheasants she is carrying have all had their significance revealed.
Book year: 2016
Book pages: 10
Book language: en
File size: 870.16 KB
File type: epub
Published: 04 July 2020 - 14:00