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.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Shoes on the Table appears in Blood Brothers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...new shoes—on the table. Mrs. Johnstone immediately reacts with alarm. Deeply superstitious, she believes that shoes on the table mean bad luck. Mrs. Lyons is amused, but agrees to put the shoes away. Then... (full context)
After Mrs. Lyons leaves, the Narrator enters. He lists various superstitions, from shoes on the table to spilling salt to breaking a mirror, creating a sense of foreboding for the audience.... (full context)
...me.” As Mr. Lyons tries to placate her, he picks up a pair of Edward’s shoes and places them on the table . Mrs. Lyons reacts with fright, sweeping the shoes off the table. As she does... (full context)