Near the beginning of the musical, Mrs. Johnstone reacts with violent fear when she sees shoes on the table—something commonly thought to mean bad luck. Mrs. Lyons then uses Mrs. Johnstone’s superstition to convince her to keep her sons separate and in the dark about their relationship. Throughout the play, the Narrator continually emerges and warns the characters that the “shoes are on the table,” along with various other symbols of bad luck (such as a cracked mirror, etc.). These symbols remind the characters of the bad luck that they have brought about themselves, and also remind the audience of the terrible finale that lies ahead. At the end of the musical, however, the Narrator tells the audience that it was the class system, rather than bad luck or superstition, which doomed the two brothers.
Shoes on the Table Quotes in Blood Brothers
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Oh God, Mrs. Lyons, never put new shoes on a table…You never know what’ll happen.
MRS. LYONS: Oh…you mean you’re superstitious?
MRS. JOHNSTONE: No, but you never put new shoes on a table.