How Is the Relationship Between Stephen and Isabelle Started and Developed in Part One of Birdsong?

1084 Words Mar 11th, 2012 5 Pages
How is the relationship between Stephen and Isabelle started and developed in Part one of Birdsong?
Part one of Birdsong begins in France 1910 which involves young Englishman Stephen Wraysford coming to Amiens to learn more about the textile industry and to stay with the Azaire family. This sets the context and is relevant as it is a period of industrial and civil unrest. The novel is written in the third person and Stephen’s presence allows for an outsider’s view of the family with him not stating his opinion and being neutral between sides. From the start there’s a mutual attraction between Stephen and Isabelle. Stephen finds this in some assets of Isabelle’s character firstly when Isabelle comments on a beautiful piece of music she
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The narrative then shifts to how he describes her and his feelings of her in his notebook, they are summed up in a single word ‘Pulse’. Stephen’s growing attraction towards Isabelle become increasingly apparent with his awareness of the way she moves and noticeably how she eats and drinks. “Her white hands seemed barely to touch the cutlery when they ate at the family dinner table and her lips left no trace of their presence on the wine glass”. Isabelle’s suppressed emotions are connected with her position as a bourgeois woman. Stephen’s attempt to get closer to her when finding her in the garden highlights why she acts with restraint. The language reiterates this earlier in the text before Stephen has a relationship with Isabelle she is referred to as Madame Azaire. Isabelle greets Stephen as ‘Monsieur’ on his returns from work. She asks him to ‘respect her position’ when Stephen takes her hand in his in the garden. She is seen to react in accordance with her social standing. Without regard Isabelle offers little in the way of resistance when he takes her hand. However these thoughts come from Stephen’s perspective and there are little insight given into Isabelle’s emotions. The theme of desire is broached and made relevant as Stephen sits opposite Isabelle on the boat on the return home from a trip to the water gardens. As they touch each other and do not move away, his desire for her is heightened. “Isabelle’s
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