Daughters Of The Late Colonel Katherine Mansfield

578 words - 3 pages

In The Daughters Of The Late Colonel we meet two sisters of an uncertain age, in the week after the death of their father. It is possible to estimate their ages at around the early fifties, because they have a grown-up nephew.This is the story of two lives which have been distorted by a tyrannical father. It is not only a story of the lost opportunities in the lives of two women, in the literal sense, but a story of a deprived existence, both physical and mental.When the story opens, the sisters are talking from their seperate beds, in one room-they have since childhood, shared a room, and Josephine remembers similar nights when, as children they had giggled in the night.Thye have never worked for a ...view middle of the document...

Their poverty is illustrated when they bought a cake and meringues for their nephew, Cyril. These were purchased at some personal sacrifice:'Josephine's winter gloves or the soling and heeling of Constancia's only respectable shoes.'Even in death, their father is with them, not just as a haunting memory, but deep in their day-to-day consciousness. At his funeral Josephine 'had a moment of absolute terror' when she thought they were burying him without permission. They are unable to deal with his personal effects because they fear he is lurking in his bedroom warderobe, or even in the chest of drawers. When they hear the barrel organist, whom their father loathed they immediatly react to his presence as thought their father were still alive.Worse than his bullying, the father of these women left them with a legacy of dependability; an inability to cope with life, without his authorative voice to command them. They had been denied a life of their own, even in terms of simple pleasures. They had been denied acquaintance, friendship, and love with members of the opposite sex.The poignancy of the story occurs in the last few paragraphs. With the death of their father, the women are now free to begin a new life, but it is too late. They attempt to form some thoughts and words into some kind of future plan, but they are finally unable to articulate the words and the thoughts they wish to express.... Perhaps it would be too dangerous for them to say these words. Without their father, they are probably even more dependent on one another than before his death.

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