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 From the start of the passage to the end her attention is drawn from objects and characters far away from her, closer in to those surrounding her, then to her own self and identity, and finally the introspective and private thoughts of her own mind. The first sentence raises the idea of a separate world of violence lying outside Marian’s own. She highlights Sir Percival’s decision to remain ‘outside’ despite the boat-house being ‘large enough to hold us all’ so she could be implying an obstinacy in his actions or perhaps more likely, she may be perplexed by his behaviour. The very action of trimming a stick with a pocket axe carries various connotations with violence and masculine sexuality. It is of course an arbitrary occupation of his time and serves as a meaningless and almost sinister method of disconnection between himself and the others and hence a source of confusion. Marian’s next comment ‘We three women’, at once it unites the women together as a concept or a quality of femininity and further separates them from the singular identity of Sir Percival. Marian’s language is deeply characterised by ideas of containment. The ladies sit inside and they are easily accommodated: ‘we three women found plenty of room on the large seat’. This statement contrasts directly with her comment about the Count a little later, who ‘took a stool many sizes too small for him, and balanced himself on it with his back against the side of the shed, which creaked and groaned under his weight’ – a sentence which trails on for longer, more involved and awkward. The Count and Sir Percival, by their cumbersome inflexibility, rebel against and test the physical world. Their presence is more palpable and harder to contain unlike the women who are compliant, slight and ensconced by the physical world. This whole image is a dilution of the revolutionary world as emasculated, savage and violent – the container and oppressor of feminine goodness.


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