Kindertransport by Diane Samuels

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13 ‘I’ve seen worse.’ – Both Lil and Faith are well aware of Evelyn’s sometimes neurotic and highly-strung behaviour (which is, of course, a consequence of her childhood experiences).

13 ‘Cleaning the windows’; ‘the step ladder’; ‘the blue overall’ – Most people have ‘comfort rituals’ they tend to run through when upset, but the implication here is that Evelyn is at least a borderline case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Cleaning glass seems to be particularly habitual for her – and glass shows up every speck of dirt if you are prepared to look hard enough. It may be that Samuels is suggesting that Evelyn’s actions stem from guilt. Her obsessive cleaning is similar in some ways to the behaviour of Tennessee Williams’ character Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire who needs to constantly take hot baths. From the audience’s perspective, Evelyn has not really had an argument with Faith (who, in turn, doesn’t feel they have seriously clashed). Possibly, what is upsetting Evelyn more is the fact that they have been in the attic room: she will have been made particularly conscious of what lies hidden there and the whole question of Faith leaving home may have stirred up old memories of when she – Evelyn – left her mother. Those memories are, in fact, being played out on stage in the dialogue between Eva and Helga.

13 ‘Lock jaw’s set in.’ – implying both that Evelyn is saying nothing and that her jaw is ‘set’ as a reaction to her overstressed state of mind. Real ‘lockjaw’ is a popular name for tetanus, used humorously here.

13 ‘Don’t you just love it?’ – Faith and Lil seem to have the relationship Faith and Evelyn ought to have as mother and daughter, and close grandmother/granddaughter relationships can sometimes be a consequence of strained relations between mother and daughter. The suggestion is that Evelyn, unlike Faith and Lil, is a damaged individual because of what has happened to her.

14 ‘You’ve made a mess, haven’t you?’ – The implication being that this is not something that will go down well with Evelyn.

14 ‘LIL. There’s harm caused all the same./ FAITH. Story of my life.’ – This is a revealing exchange. Faith is acting quite normally in showing an interest in her old toys (although this could be an indication of her own insecurity); she will later suffer guilt, however, for upsetting her mother. This has, no doubt, been a constant feature of her life: Evelyn’s peculiarities have inevitably affected her child.

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Diane Samuels