Blood Brothers

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The Narrator Character Analysis

All-knowing and always slightly menacing, the Narrator takes many roles throughout the musical. Sometimes he plays various parts (such as the Milkman), while at other times he watches the action and comments upon it. As the narrative goes forward, the Narrator constantly reminds the audience (and readers) of the terrible choice that began this chain of events, and warns us of the terrible acts that are to come. Despite his frequent mentions of fate and superstition, however, at the end of the play the Narrator claims that it was class, and not fate, that caused the tragedy that the audience has just witnessed.

The Narrator Quotes in Blood Brothers

The Blood Brothers quotes below are all either spoken by The Narrator or refer to The Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Class and Money Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Bloomsbury Press edition of Blood Brothers published in 1995.
Act 1 Quotes

So did y’hear the story of the Johnstone twins?
As like each other as two new pins,
Of one womb born, on the self same day,
How one was kept and one given away?
An’ did you never hear how the Johnstones died,
Never knowing that they shared one name,
Till the day they died…?

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mickey, Edward
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

From the first moments of the musical, audience and readers alike know that a tragic ending lies in store for the main characters. Setting the narrative up as a "story" creates a fable-like atmosphere, one that will continue throughout the play. 

Also introduced in this first passage is the use of the second-person point of view, as the Narrator addresses audience/readers directly. This device will occur frequently within the play, making us feel directly involved in the narrative's proceedings, and implicated as terrible events occur. 

Last, this passage takes care to create a sense of parallelism between the Johnstone twins. They are clearly two halves of the same whole, both literally and verbally, even though their fates differ vastly. 

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In the name of Jesus, the thing was done,
Now there’s no going back, for anyone.
It’s too late now, for feeling torn
There’s a pact been sealed, there’s a deal been born.

How swiftly those who’ve made a pact,
Can come to overlook the fact.
Or wish the reckoning to be delayed
But a debt is a debt, and must be paid.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mrs. Johnstone, Mrs. Jennifer Lyons
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

As the two mothers decide to deceive their sons, Mr. Lyons, and the whole world, the Narrator ominously announces that they can never go back on their word. He reminds the women (though of course they cannot hear him) that regret is useless--an impossible truth, of course, for Mrs. Johnstone, who has just given up all claim to one of her sons. 

Even more foreboding than the idea of regret, though, is the Narrator's mention of "a debt" that "must be paid." By agreeing to such a massive deception, Mrs. Johnstone and Mrs. Lyons have (the Narrator suggests) committed a grave and unforgivable sin. Eventually, they will pay for their crimes, however long they may delay "the reckoning" of which the Narrator warns. 

You’re always gonna know what was done
Even when you shut your eyes you still see
That you sold a son
And you can’t tell anyone.
But y’know the devil’s got your number,
Y’know he’s gonna find y’,
Y’know he’s right behind y’,

Yes, y’know the devil’s got your number

And he’s knocking at your door.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mrs. Johnstone
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

As Mrs. Johnstone grapples with her conscience, the Narrator takes on the voice of her guilt, reminding her that no matter what she does, she will always have to carry her terrible secret and shame. 

Even more disturbing than Mrs. Johnstone's guilt, though, is the metaphorical "devil" that the Narrator conjures up, repeatedly telling Mrs. Johnstone that this "devil" is going to "find" her, no matter what she does.

The "devil" represents not just guilt, but Mrs. Johnstone's sin, and the terrible fate that is coming for her and her son. No matter how much she internally punishes herself for the crime she's committed, her guilt will never be as awful as the terrible doom that awaits her family. 

Act 2 Quotes

Happy, are y’. Content at last?
Wiped out what happened, forgotten the past?
But you’ve got to have an endin’, if a start’s been made.
No one gets off without the price bein’ paid.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

The Johnstones rejoice as they get to move to their new home out in the country. Mrs. Johnstone is especially jubilant, convinced that this change will allow her to leave behind her troubled and secretive past. Even in the midst of their happiness, though, the Narrator reappears with threatening news: he reminds Mrs. Johnstone--and the audience--that she can never truly escape the sins that she has committed.

Particularly ominous is the Narrator's talk of an "endin'." Since we already know that the play will conclude with the twins' deaths, the audience is clear on exactly how terrible the "endin'" that the Narrator references will be. By also referencing the "start," he reminds us that the twins' awful demise will only occur because of the original crime committed by their mothers. 

And who’d dare tell the lambs in Spring,
What fate the later seasons bring.
Who’d tell the girl in the middle of the pair
The price she’ll pay just for being there.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mickey, Edward, Linda
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

As the play depicts the idyllic adolescence of Linda, Mickey, and Edward, the Narrator returns to ruin the perfect picture, reminding the audience/readers that the happiness we are witnessing will soon turn to sorrow. He also adds a new element to the complicated web, informing us that Linda will play an unknowing and unwilling part in the terrible fate that is yet to come.

This passage also has a somber message about coming of age. Linda, Mickey, and Edward aren't just innocent about their fate--they are innocent about the world, and the terrible way that it will rip them apart because of class and money. Their lack of knowledge about their doom becomes a metaphor for their broader ignorance about how difficult life can be. 

There’s a man gone mad in the town tonight,
He’s gonna shoot somebody down,
There’s a man gone mad, lost his mind tonight

There’s a mad man running round and round.
Now you know the devil’s got your number.
He’s runnin’ right beside you,
He’s screamin’ deep inside you,
And someone said he’s callin’ your number up today.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mickey
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

When Mickey finds out that Linda and Eddie are having an affair, he completely loses his grip on reason, finds a gun, and sets out to shoot Eddie. In the midst of a chaotic and frantic song, the chorus returns to the Narrator's original refrain: "the devil's got your number."

This is the play's way of telling us that fate has at last caught up with the Johnstone twins. Despite the fact that Mickey knows nothing about his mother's original pact, he is still reaping the consequences. The devil is "screamin' deep inside" of him, and will not rest until he pays the price for a series of decisions over which he had utterly no control. 

And do we blame superstition for what came to pass?
Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mickey, Edward
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

As the twins lie dead before a distraught Mrs. Johnstone, the Narrator enters to sum up what has occurred. Throughout the whole play, he has blamed fate and superstition for the doom that the twins are facing. Now, however, he hammers home the true message of the play: that an unjust and merciless class system has caused the tragedy that we have witnessed. 

It is easy, the narrator implies, to blame superstition and fate--things out of our control--for the injustices that take place in the world. Instead, he asserts, it is the stratified English class system that is to blame, and (more broadly) a pitiless society that doesn't help those who are down and out, like Mickey, and favors those who are wealthy and prosperous, like Eddie. No world in which two such similar people could go on to lead such different lives, he seems to tell us, could ever be fair--especially when it is this very disparity that led to a senseless and brutal tragedy. 

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The Narrator Character Timeline in Blood Brothers

The timeline below shows where the character The Narrator appears in Blood Brothers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...laments in song, begging the narrator and audience to “tell me it’s not true.” The Narrator, meanwhile, introduces the audience to the story of the Johnstone brothers, twins separated at birth,... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Narrator, now playing a Milkman, rushes in to demand that Mrs. Johnstone pay him for the... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
After Mrs. Lyons leaves, the Narrator enters. He lists various superstitions, from shoes on the table to spilling salt to breaking... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Narrator reenters, this time playing the Gynecologist. He listens to Mrs. Johnstone’s fetus’ heartbeat, and she... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
...will be taken away from her by the state. Mrs. Lyons is immediately intrigued—and the Narrator appears, commenting on how “quickly” Mrs. Lyons’ idea has been “planted.” As the Narrator exits,... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
...on a Bible never to tell anyone about the bargain. The two agree, and the Narrator appears, telling them (and the audience) that it is now too late for the women... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
The Narrator exits and the play moves to a hospital room, where Mrs. Johnstone has given birth... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The Narrator enters and once again sings about all the various omens of bad luck. He tells... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
Mrs. Lyons enters, looking for Edward. The Narrator enters as well, and repeats his refrain, warning Mrs. Lyons that “gypsies” are going to... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
...Lyons reacts with fright, sweeping the shoes off the table. As she does so, the Narrator enters, again listing his various bad omens, and adding that the devil is coming for... (full context)
Act 2
Class and Money Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
The conductor—played by the Narrator—tells the teenagers to get on the bus, but then turns to Mrs. Johnstone. He asks... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
The Narrator enters, mocking Mrs. Lyons for feeling secure, and telling her that no amount of time... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
The two boys walk along as, unbeknownst to them, the Narrator follows them (along with Mrs. Lyons). Edward offers to lend Mickey money, but Mickey says... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
The three teenagers spend the summer together, as the Narrator illustrates (in song) the innocent, idyllic months that pass. The three go to a shooting... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
As Mickey prepares to go to work, Mrs. Johnstone enters with his lunch. The Narrator enters briefly, explaining that it is a cold day in October, and ominously adding that... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The Narrator refers to his usual list of bad omens, noting that Linda in particular is afraid... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
Utterly alone, Linda moves to the telephone. As she does, the Narrator recounts her internal struggle in song, describing the “girl inside the woman” who longs for... (full context)
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Mickey roams the streets looking for the couple, as Mrs. Johnstone chases him. The Narrator tells the audience that a man has “gone mad in the town tonight,” and that... (full context)
Class and Money Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Superstition and Fate Theme Icon
The Power of the Past Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The characters freeze as the Narrator emerges, asking if we should blame superstition for the deadly chain of events, or if... (full context)