Sex and sexuality in Birdsong

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Birdsong: sex and sexuality
Sex scene (p.57-62) and Azaire (p.99 ­ 100) Homoeroticism (p. 297)
P. 57 The atmosphere in the build up to the sex scene Homosexuality is never explicitly referred to anywhere in
becomes increasingly intense, from the point that Lisette the book, yet there is a kind of love which is mainly
leaves the room and onwards ­ `at once the atmosphere depicted through scenes of camaraderie and the emotion
changed, and this time it was beyond recall.' felt for the other men
P. 57 Sense of claustrophobia is shown by the gradual Love in the war is seen as quite dangerous and precarious,
decrease in size ­ `she looked down at the card table and as the development of love for a fellow soldier will mean
played with the silver spoon in the thin china saucer' that, when one of the men dies, the living will be
P.57 The claustrophobia because much more literal and weakened once again with grief
real ­ `Stephen could feel his chest contract, he was P.297 `Stephen breathed in deeply' reminds the reader of
finding it difficult to breathe' is foreshadowing of what he the fairly elaborate description of the way in which
will experience when in the trenches, also evokes a sense Isabelle and Stephen both concentrated on their
of danger breathing in the sex scene, could also be used to show
P.57 The passion of the moment is conveyed by Isabelle's passion or sexual desire
fear and unwillingness, it's as if she knows that there will P.297 In this section, although there is an obvious sense of
be undesirable consequences camaraderie which is present throughout the novel, there
P. 57 Aggression and passion as a result of the is a slightly more homoerotic atmosphere, as it details the
anticipation ­ `tearing the white blouse' (innocence), `he sleeping patterns of the men, and likens sleeping with a
pulled her to him and wrapped both arms around her so fellow soldier to sleeping with one's wife ­ `he slept as
she could not escape' `he raged at her' all allusions danger well with him as he had ever slept in London with
and force of war, almost creates a sense of fear Margaret, shutting his ears to the sound of the trains
P.57 Isabelle tries to resist Stephen, he is quite forceful, rattling past the back window', yet this does not seem to
and it is implied that Isabelle's resistance is not genuine ­ be a conscious choice, more so a coping mechanism
`No. Please no' `I hardly think it would be right' ­ the only P.297 Stephen also speaks to the men `softly' when giving
reason that she doesn't want to is because it's not them orders, which is more so evidence of his love
acceptable and caring for the men than anything sexual, yet it
P.58 Contrasts with her prior opposition ­ `her mouth
is possible to interpret it in this way
once more responded to his'
P.297 The depth of Stephen's caring is shown quite
P.58 `The question was only whether it could be
explicitly ­ `Go and talk to the sentries. You know how
conceived with her consent'
frightened they'll be' shows his deeply rooted concern
P. 58 Her prior resistance to Stephen is entirely
that has developed for the other men. This creates the
overridden by the passion that she later exhibits ­ `She
sense that he feels obliged to protect and support them,
was choking with passion for him but she was frightened
which is similar to the responsibility he felt for Isabelle
of him' creates the sense that she lusts for him but does
P.297 Stephen is a very voyeuristic and observant
not love him in the same way as he does ­ `I understand
character in general, yet the fact that he sometimes
you. I love you'
observes the other men also reminds us of the way in
P.58 The concept that it is a human trait to want to
which he could not take his eyes off of Isabelle when at
destroy certain aspects of ourselves is shown by Isabelle's
the Azaires' house ­ `Stephen watched him go'
wishes - `She wanted to comfort him but also to be taken
P. 297 All of the men appear to be extremely reliant on
by him, to be used by him' `She wanted him to bring alive
one another, particularly for support or encouragement,
what she had buried, and to demean, destroy her
due to the constant fear that they face, and this shows
fabricated self.' This implies that her earlier hesitation was
trust and faith in the relationships between the men ­
due to a fear that what she had become (a wife and
`That's right, isn't it, Weir? He should go and see that the
mother) would be destroyed if she were to commit
other soldiers are all right?'
P.297 The men are constantly looking to find comfort in
She also seems to view Stephen as her saviour, as though
whatever way they can, and much of this seems to relate
he can resurrect her true self, and reminds us that,
to physical closeness, and not being alone ­ `Let me sleep
throughout her marriage, she has lived a lie, as she has
in his bunk till he gets back. I'm on my own since
Adamson was wounded.'

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P. 297 One of the most explicit homoerotic encounters is
bourgeois wife and mother between Jack Firebrace and Arthur Shaw ­ `lay curled
P.…read more

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Isabelle (p.35, p.109 ­ 113) Prostitute (p. 204 ­ 207)
P.35 The background given regarding Isabelle's childhood
is similar in many ways to her marriage to Azaire, as she
has been suppressed by both of the men in her life ­ `She
did not question her parents' indifference' and `he lacked
the... charm that might have made connections' `he
became bored of his houseful of women'
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Notes, quotes and a bit of analysis - nice overview of the theme




WOW Robyn 10/10 for effort!!


great resource, fab work :)

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