Birdsong

by

Sebastian Faulks

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The Red Room Symbol Analysis

The Red Room  Symbol Icon

The red room is a forgotten bedroom in the servants’ quarters of René and Isabelle Azaire’s home, and it is symbolic of the forbidden love between Isabelle and protagonist Stephen Wraysford. The room, named for the crimson cover that decorates the bed, is where Stephen and Isabelle realize their love, and it is where they make plans to run away together. In the Azaires’ massive home, Stephen is constantly getting turned around and lost on the way to dinner, but he never forgets where the red room is. Ironically, after Isabelle and Stephen admit their affair and run away, René turns the house upside down looking for evidence of their love but forgets all about the red room. In a way, Stephen and Isabelle’s love is protected by the room. Of course, their love doesn’t last and Isabelle leaves Stephen heartbroken, but neither of them ever forget their passionate afternoons in the room. Years later, after the war nearly kills them all, the Azaires’ home takes heavy shellfire. Isabelle is disfigured and paralyzed in the attack, and the red room, much like Stephen and Isabelle’s love, is destroyed beyond repair.

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The Red Room Symbol Timeline in Birdsong

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Red Room appears in Birdsong. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One: France 1910
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...again, and she does not this time resist. Suddenly, she pulls away and runs from the room . She leaves him standing alone and goes to her room, where she paces and... (full context)
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...the falsity of her position,” and thinks about her afternoon spent with Stephen. She left the red room at five o’clock, and she has not spoken to him since. (full context)
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...her skin and body, then she scours the tub and stops to “check and recheck the room for signs of adultery.” (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...dress, pulling at her clothing. “We must stop,” he says. They agree to meet in the red room , but neither of them move to separate. “Come to me,” Isabelle whispers. “Into me,... (full context)
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The red room ,” Isabelle says, standing up. “In ten minutes.” She turns to leave, and Stephen kills... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
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One day while in the red room , Stephen tells Isabelle about Lisette’s advances. Isabelle asks him if he thinks Lisette is... (full context)
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...Stephen’s affair. He goes through every room in the house before giving up, forgetting about the red room . (full context)
Part Four: France 1917
Love and Hate Theme Icon
...that most of the rear of the house has been destroyed—including the servants’ quarters and the red room . (full context)