Notes on parts 5/6 of Birdsong

detailed notes on chapters 5/6 of 'Birdsong'

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  • Created on: 09-04-13 13:12
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Hi Olivia!!
Basically, 34-47 is like 1 chapter (chapter 5) so I made notes on that:
Continuing red imagery throughout the book is present, on p35 when Jeanne talks about the
blood and such. Signifies: love, lust, passion, anger, danger
We learn more about Isabelle here, here past is privileged to the reader. We learn that her
father had an affair, and that her mother responded to this by trying to look sexually
appealing to other men. Here we can be more sympathetic to her, because we see she is
possibly only a product of a difficult upbringing.
We learn Isabelle was left by a man who went to war (foreshadows Stephen going to war!).
She is deeply hurt by this, which makes it all the more shocking/upsetting when she leaves
Azaire...then Stephen...then Azaire. We are now aware she knows what it feels like to be
betrayed and this makes us resent her.
The theme importance of children is touched upon in this chapter
o Isabelle is persuaded to marry Azaire when he `introduced his children'
o Azaire becomes deeply hurt and aggressive when he cannot have children with
Isabelle at the bottom of p38
The theme importance of physical touch is applied in this section
o Madame Azaire (top p39) questions why Azaire won't talk about their awful sex life,
when it is obviously hugely important to both of them
o Madame Azaire seems deeply dissatisfied with her life, in particular the lack of
intimacy between her and her husband. P38 `...natural impulse and affection that
had not been satisfies by any of the circumstances of her life´...
o The sexual tension between Stephen/Isabelle on the boat highlights how
overwhelming the need for physical touch can be
P42- Stephen notices small details about Isabelle's appearance, He is
obsessed and captivated by her, He notes her `closed legs' `delicate
definition of her ankles' (in those days showing ankle was quite sexy)
It is as though the air is filled with sex. Even Berards `tounge' is mentioned,
and the roots of the trees are described as `thirsting'
Lisette is portrayed as overtly sexual in this part of the play, she is closer in age to Stephen
and it highlights the backwardness of the Isabelle/Stephen affair
o P40- `lisette eyed Stephen flirtaciously'
o P41- `'but its so hot' said Lisette'
o P44- `Listte managed a strawberry tart' (Funny, double meaning)
Stephen is morbid on the boat p45 `Stephen tried to drag from his mind the vision of decay
the river had induced'. This aspect of him is recurrent throughout novel. Also, he plays cards
at home on his own, showing him to be superstitious and perhaps not able to think logically
and rationally. He seems determined that fate has a part to play in his life, he believes him
and Isabelle are destined to be together and that any consequences of their love are worth
Bird imagery in final paragraph p47 (Im not too sure what this is about, but you should have
notes about significance of birds in the book! If you do please forward them to me!)

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Chapter 6
Time is important in this part
o Immediately Stephen receives a telegram asking him to come home. This puts a time
limit on Stephen and Isabelle, tension increases straight away
o P48- Stephen once again notices small details of Isabelle. This drags out his wanting
for her
o P58- he goes to meet Isabelle in red room.…read more


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