The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
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
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon

Miss Brodie can identify and transfigure common girls into extraordinary women, or such is her hope, anyway. She also has a pressing desire to experience transcendence, through art, sex, even radical politics—and transfiguring her girls so that they bear her image and so that she can in a small way guide their fates is her only real means of transcending the littleness of her life. Calvinism is a central context here: Miss Brodie reacts so strongly against its doctrine of predestination, where one cannot transfigure much less transcend one’s destiny, that she goes so far as to elect herself to grace and plays a kind of secular God of Calvin in electing and transfiguring her girls into the “the crème de la crème.”

Miss Brodie has two criteria for election (and has good insight into who possesses these, for her girls tend to be among the brightest at Blaine): insight and instinct. Insight has to do with imaginative exuberance and psychological penetration, exemplified by Sandy; instinct has to do with sexual and social charisma, exemplified by Rose. Miss Brodie claims to possess both these qualities herself, although we might question her psychological astuteness: after all, she thinks Rose a carnal girl, when Rose has no interest in sex for the most part; Miss Brodie also thinks that she can trust Sandy absolutely, when Sandy is the Brodie girl least loyal to her in the end. Indeed, the novel as a whole seems in some ways to test or question the value of psychological insight: its pages are largely devoid of psychological analysis of its characters, as though such analysis were incidental to understanding its characters. As such, we, as readers, are forced to be the psychologists, to map what characters say and do to their reasons and motivations, especially in regards to Sandy’s decision to betray Miss Brodie, which goes unexplained in the novel and is only gestured toward and skirted around.

Ultimately, Miss Brodie’s attempts to transfigure the commonplace fail. Rose doesn’t sleep with Mr. Lloyd as Miss Brodie plans, Miss Brodie’s students pursue commonplace careers as typists and nurses, and Sandy in the end betrays her teacher. Without girls to sculpt and without the arts in her life as represented by Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Lowther, Miss Brodie more and more has nothing to do with herself but obsess over the last great drama of her life which transcends mere schoolteaching, namely her betrayal; and so ends her prime. Sandy, for her part, reacts so radically against Miss Brodie she turns (like Spark herself) to Catholicism, which locates the human desire for transfiguration within the ritual of the Holy Communion, where bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. This position—of reserving transfiguration for sacred as opposed to secular life—is one the novel privileges over Calvinism and, relatedly, Miss Brodie’s self-election to grace.

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Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration appears in each chapter of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Below you will find the important quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie related to the theme of Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration.
Chapter 1 Quotes

‘I am putting old heads on your young shoulders,’ Miss Brodie had told them at that time, ‘and all my pupils are the crème de la crème.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel opens with the "Brodie set," a group of girls joined together by their dedication to an elementary school teacher, Miss Jean Brodie. Although they have aged out of her class at this point in time, the girls are still defined by their relationship with Miss Brodie. Here we see Sandy, the most clear-sighted and analytical of the group, recalling an earlier phrase of Miss Jean Brodie's.  

These lines reveal the almost unnatural, intrusive nature of Miss Brodie's concept of education, which she defines as the process of "putting old heads on...young shoulders." This controlling method ensures that the Brodie set will be educated according to Miss Brodie's whims, as opposed to any curriculum. It also foreshadows Mr. Lloyd's disturbing portraits, in which he literally paints Miss Brodie's head on her pupil's shoulders. 

The second half of her quote, in which she calls her pupils "the crème de la crème," illuminates Miss Brodie's efforts to choose a select group of students and transform them into exceptional young women through the strength of her influence. This desire to shape the Brodie set's fate is a rebellion against Calvinistic belief. Instead of God determining one's fate, as he does before birth in the Calvinist tradition, it is Miss Jean Brodie herself who has the power to choose souls to elevate to the status of "crème de la crème." This, then, is a secular election and salvation, which Miss Brodie controls. 


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‘It has been suggested again that I should apply for a post at one of the progressive schools, where my methods would be more suited to the system than they are at Blaine. But I shall not apply for a post at a crank school. I shall remain at this education factory. There must be a leaven in the lump. Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Although none of them are in her class any longer, Miss Brodie still demands her pupils spend time with her. Here, she has taken the six girls on a walk to discuss the details of a "plot" meant to force her to resign.  

Although it has been suggested that she work at a "progressive school," Miss Brodie is disdainful of the idea of working at a "crank" school. We sense that Miss Brodie does not want to teach at a progressive school because she might blend in with the other eccentrics, whereas she is seen as radical and exceptional at Blaine, or, as she says, "a leaven in the lump." Miss Brodie wants to maintain her authority over her Brodie set, and she also wants to continue to be associated with an exclusive social group, to be in the middle of a dramatic situation.

She speaks to these dovetailing interests in her last two lines here, grandly announcing that the Brodie set will be hers for life. She aims to transfigure these girls into remarkable women. This strident control of her pupils is intrusive and inappropriate, however, despite her claims to the contrary. And for now, the girls simply smile in response, entirely under Miss Brodie's thrall. 

‘But safety does not come first. Goodness, Truth and Beauty come first. Follow me.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, the narrative shifts six years into the past, and we see the Brodie set's first impression of Miss Jean Brodie. She has led her class of ten-year-olds out into the garden, where they pass a sign that reads "Safety First." Tellingly, Miss Brodie rejects the sign's message, preferring"Goodness, Truth and Beauty" over safety. These values are certainly more transfiguring and loftier than that of safety. 

In this moment, Miss Brodie frames herself as being at odds with the rest of the teaching staff at Blaine, and her pupils are struck by the idea that adults can differ from one another. Those girls who will be picked for the Brodie set, we conclude, will follow along a path that diverges from those around them. 

Miss Brodie's disregard for her pupil's safety is, on a basic level, both nobly admirable and irresponsible. By privileging loftier ideals over safety, Miss Brodie ends by playing a part, however passive, in the death of Joyce Emily years later.  

Chapter 2 Quotes

Sandy looked back at her companions and understood them as a body with Miss Brodie for the head. She perceived herself, the absent Jenny, the ever-blamed Mary, Rose, Eunice, and Monica, all in a frightening little moment, in unified compliance to the destiny of Miss Brodie, as if God had willed them to birth for that purpose.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Miss Brodie and her set are out walking. Sandy has an impulse to be kind to Mary MacGregor, who is the slow-witted scapegoat of the group. However, her kind impulse is checked by Miss Brodie's voice. Here, she sees herself and her companions as being a unified body with Miss Brodie "for the head." This moment is linked to the theme of Calvinism and predestination. 

Sandy sees clearly how Miss Brodie is a kind of God for herself and the other girls - she has chosen them and is now shaping them in her own image. She controls their fate with a confidence that suggests predetermination. In fact, it seems to Sandy that God himself has willed them all into existence only so that they might serve Miss Brodie. This moment is shocking and disturbing, as we see what the final goal of Miss Brodie's cherished transfiguration is: small replicas of herself, each girl like a piece of her own body. 

Mussolini had put an end to unemployment with his fascisti and there was no litter in the streets. It occurred to Sandy, there at the end of the Middle Meadow Walk, that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie’s fascisti, not to the naked eye, marching along, but all knit together for her need and in another way, marching along.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

During the same walk, Miss Brodie tells her girls that they should not join the Girl Guides, or Girl Scout Brownies. At this refusal, Sandy remembers Miss Brodie's admiration for Mussolini's troops, who had ended unemployment and cleaned the streets. Here, we see her drawing a convincing parallel between Mussolini and Miss Brodie herself. 

Sandy correctly intuits that she is a part of "Miss Brodie's fascisti," a social group "knit together" by their charismatic and powerful leader. Miss Brodie, as we saw earlier, attempts to transfigure her set into imitations of herself, but here we see that there is a militaristic component to her influence as well. Her set is a kind of social protection - girls that she has groomed to do whatever she might require of them.

Directly following this moment, Sandy thinks of defecting from Miss Brodie's ranks and joining the Girl Guides before a "group-fright siez[es]" her, but the idea seems ridiculous. The dangers of Miss Brodie's invasive methods are on display here, and will only grow more apparent when she encourages Joyce Emily to fight in the Spanish Civil War. 

And if people take their clothes off in front of each other, thought Sandy, it is so rude, they are bound to be put off their passion for a moment. And if they are put off just for a single moment, how can they be swept away in the urge? If it all happens in a flash…

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, we get our first glimpse into Sandy's complicated feelings about passion and sexuality. She is daydreaming about having dinner with Alan Breck (a famous historical figure) but is disturbed at the possibility that a dinner would lead to something more. She thinks to herself that being swept away must be avoidable. People must have a moment to think about it before romantic passion takes over them.

Then, Sandy thinks that the act of taking "clothes off" would be rude enough to "put off...passion for a moment." In addition to revealing her discomfort with the idea of sex and passion, this thought is amusing and reveals how young and inexperienced Sandy is.

Finally, this passage reveals Sandy's strong anxieties surrounding passion and the loss of self-control. Sandy highly values thinking, and does not want to be intellectually incapacitated by passion. Her thoughts here also relate to her feelings for Miss Brodie: earlier on the walk Sandy thinks to herself how she loves Miss Brodie, but it also seems that she is afraid of being swept away by her, of losing her identity to her, of losing her self-control. In one sense, Sandy’s betrayal of Miss Brodie is an act of recovering herself from passion (which would also make sense as Sandy eventually becomes a nun).

Chapter 3 Quotes

Miss Brodie stood in her brown dress like a gladiator with raised arm and eyes flashing like a sword. ‘Hail Caesar!’ she cried again, turning radiantly to the window light, as if Caesar sat there.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brodie has returned from her vacation to Europe in a state of excitement after being exposed to European culture and fascist politics. Here, she recalls having seen the Coliseum in Rome where gladiators hailed Caesar, and then goes on to perform the action for her pupils to see. This is a telling moment, where Miss Brodie reveals how enamored she is with figures of great authority, and the effects they have on their subjects.

From the details that her eyes were "flashing like a sword," and that she turned "radiantly," we understand how impactful a moment this was for Miss Brodie. She is so dedicated to the memory that she nearly conjures Caesar, who seems to sit in front of the window.

She is in love with the idea of a charismatic, monolithic ruler. She envisions Caesar as an ancestor of her admirable Mussolini, who in turn is the model for her own treatment of the Brodie set, according to Sandy.

The fact that she performs this scene for her students in place of a history lesson only confirms her desire to be in a position of inappropriate authority. In addition to reliving her memory, she is showing them how best to follow a leader—how to be a Brodie set of gladiators. 

Sandy caught his [Mr. Teddy Lloyd’s] glance towards Miss Brodie as if seeking her approval for his very artistic attitude and Sandy saw her smile back as would a goddess with superior understanding smile to a god away on the mountain tops.

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

Teddy Lloyd is, along with Mr. Lowther, one of two male teachers at the school whom the Brodie set intuit has feelings for Miss Brodie. Here, he is giving an art lesson to the students while Miss Brodie watches. He shows the students a painting of a Madonna and Child without any religious awe - only a "very artistic attitude." This surprises the religious girls, and Sandy notices that Mr. Lloyd seems to be "seeking [Miss Brodie's] approval" of his attitude.  

This brief instant confirms Miss Brodie's assertion that she is in her "prime," as well as fanning the flames of sexual curiosity that run unchecked through the Brodie set. Mr. Lloyd's art lesson is ironically less focused on teaching the girls about art and more interested in gauging Miss Brodie's thoughts, which, we see here, overlap with Mr. Lloyd's. They are a "god" and "goddess" above the young heads of their pupils.

This consideration on Mr. Lloyd's part is a very subtle form of courtship, and the fact that Sandy notices it suggests that she has been primed to take an inappropriate interest in Miss Brodie's personal relationships, which, of course, she has. Miss Brodie speaks frequently about her deceased first great love, who, like Mr. Lloyd, was a soldier. Immediately after the lesson, Monica Douglas tells the Brodie set that Mr. Lloyd kissed Miss Brodie. The idea seems impossible to them, but they soon become obsessed with it.

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. 

It is seven years, thought Sandy, since I betrayed this tiresome woman [Miss Brodie]. What does she mean by ‘betray’? She was looking at the hills as if to see there the first and unbetrayable Miss Brodie, indifferent to criticism as a crag.

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

This is an essential moment in the novel's plot. The book makes use of prolepsis (flash-forwards in time) to show us the fate of the Brodie set in their adult years. These flash-forwards focus particularly on Sandy, who is here having lunch with an aged and nostalgic Miss Brodie. Miss Brodie has spent much of the lunch trying to discover which of her set "betrayed" her.  And now we learn that it is Sandy, presumably the girl that Miss Brodie suspects the least, who betrayed her teacher. 

Sandy thinks of Miss Brodie as "this tiresome woman," which reveals the effort Sandy has made to free herself of Miss Brodie's charismatic spell. Sandy is also confounded by Miss Brodie's suggestion that she has been "betrayed." We understand that "the first and unbetrayable Miss Brodie," that is, the Miss Brodie that led the Brodie set when Sandy was a girl, would not use such a term. It would not, as Sandy herself suggests, have even been possible to betray the woman she used to know. 

Sandy then looks out to the hills, searching for the earlier, stronger, more enchanting Miss Brodie as if she were a crag in the hillside. We understand here that although Sandy has made a great effort to break free of Miss Brodie's authority, she is still somewhat caught up in it, or at least nostalgic for it. She pretends not to feel any pull from the present day Miss Brodie, but in fact, Sandy is the member of the Brodie set who remains most faithfully obsessed with Miss Brodie in her adult life. 

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.

Chapter 4 Quotes

It was twenty-five years before Sandy had so far recovered from a creeping vision of disorder that she could look back and recognize that Miss Brodie’s defective sense of self-criticism had not been without its beneficent and enlarging effects; by which time Sandy had already betrayed Miss Brodie and Miss Brodie was laid in her grave.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Related to the fact that Miss Brodie could not respect the guilt-based religion of the Roman Catholic Church, she lives her life with a "defective sense of self-criticism." This means that Miss Brodie does not feel guilt - she does not reproach herself for making immoral choices. Here, we see Sandy considering this trait of Miss Brodie's, and coming to appreciate it in a way that she had not been able to do as a girl. 

Sandy, we remember, spent her adolescence obsessed with Miss Brodie, but also disturbed by her willingness to bend the truth of her life and manipulate her students. Miss Brodie's inability to feel guilt, when combined with these other failings, gave rise to Sandy's "creeping vision of disorder." Miss Brodie was a chaotic force, and Sandy, who as a girl was drawn to control and cool, analytic thought, found this chaos unsettling. 

However, "twenty-five years" later, after the damage has been done on both sides (Sandy betrayed Miss Brodie, and Miss Brodie stunted the development of many of her pupils), Sandy realizes that Miss Brodie's refusal to self-criticize had "benefic[ial] and enlarging effects." This is a bittersweet moment. It highlights Sandy's constant consideration of Miss Brodie, as well as the deeply complicated legacy - both positive and negative - that Miss Brodie left behind. 

Chapter 5 Quotes

‘Do you know, Sandy dear, all my ambitions are for you and Rose. You have got insight, perhaps not quite spiritual, but you’re a deep one, and Rose has got instinct, Rose has got instinct.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker), Sandy Stranger, Rose Stanley
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brodie is speaking to Sandy in the fall of 1931. Sandy is in her early teenage years and Miss Brodie is in the heyday of her affair with Mr. Lowther. The Brodie set is maturing into themselves, and Miss Brodie here takes it upon herself to claim that, out of all the girls, she only has "ambitions" for two of them: Sandy and Rose. She chooses these two girls because she feels they represent the two greatest characteristics a woman can have: insight and instinct. 

Sandy has insight, which Miss Brodie defines as intellectual ability and analytical penetration. Rose, on the other hand, has instinct, which here means physical appeal, grace, and erotic power. Miss Brodie conceives of herself as having both insight and instinct, and so we might see her trying to recreate the whole of herself in two spiritual daughters, each of whom is half of her.

It's a mistake, of course, that Miss Brodie should place so much trust in Sandy and Rose. Eventually, Rose will cast off her influence and Sandy will betray her.  

She [Sandy] began to sense what went to the makings of Miss Brodie who had elected herself to grace in a particular way and with more exotic suicidal enchantment than if she had simply taken to drink like other spinsters who couldn’t stand it any more.

It was plain that Miss Brodie wanted Rose with her instinct to start preparing to be Teddy Lloyd’s lover, and Sandy with her insight to act as informant on the affair. It was to this end that Rose and Sandy had been chose as the crème de la crème.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Sandy has a revelation about Miss Brodie's self-elevation as well as Miss Brodie's grand plan for Sandy and Rose. Miss Brodie is a glamorous woman, committed to the idea of a life transfigured and elevated by passion and extraordinary actions. To this end, Miss Brodie has "elected herself to grace" so that she might best control and determine her own fate as well as the fates of her set. She wants to plot the lives of her students like a novelist, or a predestining God.

However, Sandy sees that this control and manipulation is merely an "exotic" version of common actions taken by "other spinsters." While those less imaginative women might "take to drink" to numb the bleakness of their daily lives, Miss Brodie instead finds escape and fantasy in her plans for herself and her girls. The method is different, but the root causes are the same. 

We also see the first explicit sketch of Miss Brodie's plan for her two most promising girls - the insightful Sandy and the instinctive Rose. Miss Brodie wants Rose to begin an affair with Mr. Lloyd - to act as Miss Brodie's erotic proxy. Sandy's job will be to inform Miss Brodie about the affair in satisfying detail. Although she pretends to have elevated ambitions for the "creme de la creme" of her girls, Miss Brodie's actual plan is a sordid, disturbing anticlimax. 

Chapter 6 Quotes

She [Miss Brodie] thinks she is Providence, thought Sandy, she thinks she is the God of Calvin, she sees the beginning and the end. And Sandy thought, too, the woman is an unconscious lesbian. And many theories from the books of psychology categorized Miss Brodie, but failed to obliterate her image from the canvases of one-armed Teddy Lloyd.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Related Symbols: Mr. Teddy Lloyd’s Portraits
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Lloyd has become a secondary figure of obsession for Sandy, mainly because he is so clearly infatuated with Miss Brodie, a feeling with which Sandy can't help but empathize. The portraits that Mr. Lloyd paints of the Brodie set have one thing in common: they all look like more like Miss Brodie than their true subjects. Sandy reports this to Miss Brodie, who is predictably pleased with the information. She called herself Mr. Lloyd's Muse, and goes on to speculate on when Rose will take her place as the artist's muse, a veiled reference to the affair that Miss Brodie is attempting to orchestrate. 

Here, we see Sandy grapple openly with a way of understanding Miss Brodie and pinning her down. Sandy is known for her "insight" - her ability to analyze clearly and deeply - and here, we can read her attempts to define Miss Brodie as a way of wrestling control away from her teacher. If she can classify Miss Brodie, then Miss Brodie will lose some of her magnetic power. 

First, Sandy thinks that Miss Brodie has put herself in the position of God. She controls her pupil's fate like the Calvinist God of predetermination, or like an author manipulating characters into pleasing and dramatic narratives. Sandy's next idea - that Miss Brodie is an "unconscious lesbian" - may well be a psychological projection. Sandy herself seems to have homoerotic feelings for Miss Brodie. Her thoughts then become more vague, as she cycles through "many theories" in an attempt to define Miss Brodie. Sandy is ultimately unsuccessful, however, as none of her analytical thinking can erase Miss Brodie from Mr. Lloyd's canvases, and by extension, from his mind as well as Sandy's. 

The more she [Sandy] discovered him [Mr. Lloyd] to be in love with Jean Brodie, the more she was curious about the mind that loved the woman. By the end of the year it happened that she had quite lost interest in the man himself, but was deeply absorbed in his mind, from which she extracted, among other things, his religion as a pith from a husk.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

Despite Miss Brodie's plans for Rose and Mr. Lloyd to have an affair, it is actually Sandy who begins sleeping with Mr. Lloyd. She does so for several reasons. Mr. Lloyd and Sandy share an obsession with Miss Brodie, which Sandy can use to manipulate Mr. Lloyd (every time she points out that he has accidentally painted Miss Brodie, Mr. Lloyd kisses her). Also, Sandy has long wanted to thwart Miss Brodie's deterministic plans, and becoming Mr. Lloyd's lover in Rose's place is an efficient way of derailing Miss Brodie's attempts to manipulate her life. 

However, as her affair with Mr. Llody continues, Sandy loses interest in "the man himself." Instead, she is consumed by her efforts to understand "the mind that loved [Miss Brodie]." Again, we see "insightful" Sandy throwing the full force of her analytical powers into trying to understand Miss Brodie and the effects she has on people. 

In the course of her study of Mr. Lloyd, Sandy "extract[s]" his religion. Mr. Lloyd is a Roman Catholic. Eventually, Sandy becomes a Roman Catholic nun. Sandy may take an interest in Roman Catholicism for a number of reasons. Perhaps she feels guilty about her affair with Mr. Lloyd and thinks that she can most effectively repent as a Roman Catholic. Or, more persuasively, perhaps she is defying Miss Brodie’s influence by turning to Roman Catholicism, a faith where one cannot just dismiss one’s own guilt as Miss Brodie seems to do. Another option is that in becoming Roman Catholic she becomes like the man whom Miss Brodie loves. Or perhaps it is some messy combination of all of these things.