The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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A member of the Brodie set famous for her beauty and grace, Jenny is also Sandy’s best friend when the girls are young; together, the two write a fictionalized love correspondence between Miss Brodie and Mr. Lowther. However, as the girls grow older, they also grow apart. While Sandy completes her last year at Blaine, Jenny enrolls at a school of dramatic art, going on to become an actress.

Jenny Gray Quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie quotes below are all either spoken by Jenny Gray or refer to Jenny Gray. 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:
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie published in 2009.
Chapter 2 Quotes

‘Miss Brodie says prime is best,’ Sandy said.
‘Yes, but she never got married like our mothers and fathers.’
‘They don’t have primes,’ said Sandy.
‘They have sexual intercourse,’ Jenny said.

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger (speaker), Jenny Gray (speaker), Miss Jean Brodie
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brodie often tells her pupils that she is in her "prime," by which she means that she is at the peak of her allure, charisma, and influence. A woman's prime, we infer, is the most important and powerful time in her life, personally, professionally, and sexually. Miss Brodie tells her students to anticipate and recognize their primes. Here, Sandy and Jenny, two of the Brodie set, discuss their parents in the context of primes and sexual experience. 

This exchange reveals that Sandy and Jenny have intuited that Miss Brodie's prime is somehow related to sexuality. In trying to define the relation between sex and a prime, they agree that their parents do not have primes. However, they do "have sexual intercourse," which in itself strikes the girls as "a stupendous thought." They are both struck by the fact that Miss Brodie is in her prime, but is not married. She is a spinster at the peak of her sexual charisma, which seems contradictory to Sandy and Jenny. Indeed, Miss Brodie's affairs with married and unmarried men alike will be the among the dramatic centers of the text. 

This discussion of sex is complicated when Sandy speculates on Mr. Lloyd's newborn baby, saying that the infant is proof that Mr. Lloyd "committed sex with his wife." By saying "committed," Sandy further reveals her ambivalence towards sex by framing it with criminal language.

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Chapter 3 Quotes

The shuttle of the sewing machines went up and down, which usually caused Sandy and Jenny to giggle, since at that time everything that could conceivably bear a sexual interpretation immediately did so to them. But the absence of Miss Brodie and the presence of Miss Gaunt had a definite subtracting effect from the sexual significance of everything, and the trepidation of the two sewing sisters contributed to the effect of grim realism.

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger, Jenny Gray, Miss Ellen and Alison Kerr
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

To understand the significance of this quote, we must remember the earlier sewing lesson scene, when Miss Brodie was present. In that scene, Miss Brodie read aloud to her pupils from Jane Eyre as they sewed, and the girls pricked their fingers so that there would be blood on their work. This earlier scene had an erotic, charged atmosphere that is noticeably lacking in the scene introduced in this quotation. 

In this scene, Miss Brodie's absence drains the "sexual significance" from everything. The weakened erotic charge is completely snuffed out by the complimentary presence of Miss Gaunt, whose very name suggests the "grim realism" her presence evokes. 

Later in the text, we learn that Miss Brodie took the leave of absence illustrated here to carry out an affair with Mr. Lowther (as a means of distracting herself from her true passion for Mr. Lloyd). The Brodie set is uniquely attuned to their own sexuality as well as Miss Brodie's, and here we see a different version of the authority and social grouping that has occurred throughout the text.

The Brodie set is still sensitive to the erotic fluctuations caused by Miss Brodie even when she is not present. She maintains her authority over them by priming their sexual curiosity (such as reading Jane Eyre to them) and her pull is strong enough that they define their mood even by her absence. 

This was the first time the girls had heard of Hugh’s artistic leanings. Sandy puzzled over this with Jenny, and it came to them both that Miss Brodie was making her new love story fir the old… Sandy was fascinated by this method of making patterns was facts, and was divided between her admiration for the technique and the pressing need t prove Miss Brodie guilty of misconduct.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Jenny Gray, Hugh
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Miss Brodie has just been speaking about a familiar subject - her lost love, Hugh, who died in the war. However, her story is different this time. For "the first time," Miss Brodie tells the girls that Hugh was an artist - a painter, in fact. It is no coincidence that Mr. Lloyd, her most recent passion, is also a painter.

Sandy and Jenny realize that Miss Brodie is making "her new love story fit the old." In this moment, we see Sandy's ambivalent feelings towards Miss Brodie's manner of living. 

First and foremost, Sandy is "fascinated" by Miss Brodie's willingness to treat her own life as a narrative, and to mold the structure to fit her whims. However, Sandy is also struck by a "need to prove Miss Brodie guilty of misconduct." This need will come to motivate many of Sandy future actions - not least her final betrayal of Miss Brodie. Her desire to expose and punish the guilty is also related to her conflicting feelings towards sex and sexuality, as well as her eventual conversion to the Roman Catholic church. Miss Brodie is playing loosely with the facts of her sexual history, and Sandy resents this.

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Jenny Gray Character Timeline in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The timeline below shows where the character Jenny Gray appears in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...said on that occasion. The prettiest and most graceful member of the Brodie set is Jenny Gray, who is Sandy’s best friend and wants to be an actress. (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
...of the boys and girls socializing. One of the five boys, named Andrew, is insulting Jenny about her way of speech. She tells him not to be a lout, but he... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
As they walk together, Miss Brodie invites the six girls to supper, and insists that Jenny come even though she has plans with the Dramatic Society; for there is a plot... (full context)
Chapter 2
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...to be the happiest time of her life, and on her tenth birthday she tells Jenny Gray as much. The two girls agree that unlike Miss Brodie their parents didn’t have... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...bore the title “The Mountain Eyrie.” The notebook holds a story written by Sandy and Jenny about Miss Brodie’s dead lover Hugh, whom the girls have imagined to be alive. In... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Sandy and Jenny resume work on the story, describing how the fictionalized Hugh flings Sandy away to pursue... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...In fact, it is Eunice Gardiner who broaches the subject of sex with Sandy and Jenny by pointing out a sexual phrase in the Bible, which induces them to threaten to... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...old parts of Edinburgh, one Friday in March. Sandy is walking alongside Mary Macgregor because Jenny is absent from the outing. Sandy is daydreaming about assisting Alan Breck, a Scottish rebel... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
...the unemployed men, then thinks of their starving children and wants to cry. She wishes Jenny were with her, “because Jenny cried easily about poor children.” Sandy turns to Mary then... (full context)
Chapter 3
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...the sewing teachers Miss Ellen and Allison Kerr felt cowed by Miss Gaunt. Sandy and Jenny used to giggle watching the shuttles of the sewing machines go up and down, which... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...herself that, to break up the sexless gloom imposed by Miss Gaunt, she hypothesized with Jenny that Miss Brodie was having a love affair not with Mr. Lloyd but Mr. Lowther,... (full context)
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Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...Miss Brodie now playing the accompaniment on the piano. Mr. Lowther no longer plays with Jenny’s curls. Sandy is almost sure that Mr. Lowther loves Miss Brodie and that Miss Brodie... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
...side. Miss Mackay, at that point the headmistress, who favors the Modern side, invites Sandy, Jenny, and Mary over for tea, to discuss the decision with them. Mary’s grades are too... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
...of Miss Brodie, with the goal of pumping incriminating facts about her out of Sandy, Jenny, and Mary. Miss Mackay asks about the girls’ cultural interests, which Mary reports to be... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Toward the end of the Easter holidays, Jenny is walking out alone by the Water of Leith (a river in Scotland), when a... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...Breck and Mr. Rochester and instead falls in love with this policewoman, whom she questions Jenny about with enthusiasm. Sandy is troubled, though, that the policewoman in real life pronounced the... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...that the two need to look into Miss Brodie’s “‘liaison with Gordon Lowther.’” Sandy and Jenny also begin composing a fictionalized love correspondence between Miss Brodie and Mr. Lowther. (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Back at school after the Easter holidays, Sandy and Jenny keep secret the “Water of Leith affair”; one morning Sandy even goes so far as... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...think the painter was the real Hugh,’” she says. It becomes clear to Sandy and Jenny, as they discuss it alone, that Miss Brodie was fitting her old love story about... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
During a short vacation, while visiting Jenny’s aunt in the coastal town of Crail in the Scottish region of Fife, Sandy and... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
After completing the love correspondence, Sandy and Jenny read it from end to end, and wonder whether they should cast it out to... (full context)
Chapter 4
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...floor and told Rose Stanley, whose profile he seemed to admire, to pick it up. Jenny commented to Sandy when Mr. Lloyd smashed the saucer that Miss Brodie had good taste... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
The narrator tells us that, since moving on to the Senior school, Sandy and Jenny’s interest in Miss Brodie’s love life has moved from being absolutely sexually charged to being... (full context)
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Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
It is only later, the narrator says fast-forwarding, when Jenny is a forty-year-old actress sixteen years into marriage, that her “buoyant and airy discovery of... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
...on Saturdays, Miss Brodie also sets aside an hour during which she has Sandy and Jenny teach her the Greek they are learning in class. She progresses in the language, although... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
In the spring of 1933, Miss Brodie’s Greek lessons with Sandy and Jenny come to an end. The Kerr sisters have begun to enjoy caring for Mr. Lowther... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...her victory over the Kerr sisters. She attributes it, in a discussion with Sandy and Jenny, to her ancestry. She explains that she is a descendent of Willie Brodie, a cabinetmaker... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...one day, hence his many children, six in all including lots of babies. Sandy and Jenny report that Mrs. Lloyd is either past her prime or would never have one. At... (full context)
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Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
One night in the summer of 1933, Sandy and Jenny are at Mr. Lowther’s house at Cramond while Miss Brodie prepares a great ham. She... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
On a joint impulse, Sandy and Jenny decide then to run along the beach. When they return to Mr. Lowther’s house, they... (full context)
Chapter 5
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...her ambitions are fixed on her and Rose. She asks Sandy if it seems that Jenny is becoming a bit insipid, and Sandy agrees. Miss Brodie goes on to criticize all... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...1937. Eunice has a boyfriend; Monica and Mary take groceries to people living in slums; Jenny is acting; Rose models for Teddy Lloyd, sometimes accompanied by Sandy who toys with the... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
...four of the Brodie girls remain: Mary has gone off to be a typist, and Jenny has enrolled at a school of dramatic art. While completing studies at Blaine, Eunice thinks... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...she has become Sister Helena of the Transfiguration and published “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.” Jenny writes that Miss Brodie is past her prime and obsessed with the question of who... (full context)