I for Isobel

by

Amy Witting

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A girl on the fringes of the university students’ clique who is obsessed with Nick and stalks him throughout town. Isobel is often tasked with dealing with Diana, as the rest of the students (and Helen, Nick’s landlady) are exhausted by her presence. Isobel worries that Diana will kill herself after Isobel, speaking thoughtlessly, implies that anyone who can’t move on from something is “as good as dead.” Isobel is tasked with breaking the news of Nick’s death to Diana when it happens. However, Diana reacts coolly, and Isobel sees Diana experience the same kind of relief that Isobel herself felt when her mother died.

Diana Quotes in I for Isobel

The I for Isobel quotes below are all either spoken by Diana or refer to Diana. 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:
Mothers, Daughters, and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Text Publishing edition of I for Isobel published in 1989.
Chapter 4 Quotes

The idea of losing a job was so alarming to Isobel that she could not leave the subject. “But what are you going to do? You have to have a job. You have to eat!”

Diana considered that idea carefully, then shrugged. “I've got some money saved.”

“And when that's gone?”

She sounded quite belligerent. Interesting. Here was someone feeble enough to bring out the bully in Isobel.

“What do I care? I don't care about anything. I'm finished. I'm as good as dead.”

Isobel reflected. “You know, I think that's right. I mean, if you take life as change and development—and I think it must be, life must be always changing... if you had a life without change, it might be as good as death, I suppose... well, when you can't change, I suppose you are as good as dead.”

She was so interested in this idea that she forgot Diana and spoke with detachment, then was startled at the fury in Diana's eyes. True to form, she made a note: masochists prefer to devise their own sufferings.

Related Characters: Isobel Callaghan (speaker), Diana (speaker)
Page Number: 126-127
Explanation and Analysis:

Later, she thought wistfully of the vanished prospect of being Trevor's girlfriend, of belonging... Couldn't she have pretended? Would it have been enough, if she had done everything he wanted? That would have been no trouble; she would have been quite ready always to do what Trevor wanted. But she would have had to know what he did want. It would be like being a spy in a foreign country, having to pass for a native. She would be found out. The penalty for being found out appeared as Diana, walking and watching, obsessed with suffering. That moment when you found out they hated you and you did not know why—any deprivation was better than that.

Related Characters: Isobel Callaghan, Trevor, Diana
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

“It was an accident, on his bike. I don't know much about it; he was badly hurt and he died this morning in hospital. Helen asked me to come and tell you.”

Absent-mindedly Diana pulled open the drawer of the bedside table, got out a hairbrush and began to brush her hair.

Shock. People do very funny things when they're shocked. But the feeling that was coming over Diana did not seem like shock. It was profound; she was thinking hard and breathing deeply. She dropped the hairbrush and steadied herself with one hand on the pillow.

This must be what they called being in travail. It was a private process; Isobel should go away and let her get on with it, but she did not know how to do that.

The feeling was appearing now: relief. Isobel was the prison governor who had brought her news of her reprieve. She said, “Can I get you something? Make you a cup of tea?'

What falsehood. I am thinking of what she ought to

be feeling.

Diana too thought Isobel had made a social error. “No, thank you. I'm quite all right.” She looked with surprise at the hairbrush and put it back in the drawer.

All right is no word for it. She's glad he's dead. She feels the way I felt when my mother died. He wasn't a human being to her, he was a thorn in her side, a stone in her shoe.

Related Characters: Isobel Callaghan (speaker), Diana (speaker), Mrs. May Callaghan, Nick
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire I for Isobel LitChart as a printable PDF.
I for Isobel PDF

Diana Character Timeline in I for Isobel

The timeline below shows where the character Diana appears in I for Isobel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: Glassware and Other Breakable Items
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
...Kenneth tells him that he is an adverb. He tells Nick jokingly that someone named Diana, who is not present, is a “past participle.” As the game goes on, and the... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
...the window] gets tired of it.” Isobel realizes that the girl at the window is Diana—the “past participle.” Isobel is curious about Diana. As the others talk derisively about Diana, Isobel... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Storytelling, Fiction, Narrative, and Escape Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
...tells Helen that they all had a “visitor” at the café. Helen tells Janet that Diana stopped by the house first, but that Helen didn’t tell her where the group was.... (full context)
Mothers, Daughters, and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
...the yard, a motorbike starts up, and the group remarks that Nick is “escaping.” Apparently, Diana has not been seen for a fortnight until today—the last time anyone saw her was... (full context)
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
Once Isobel is upstairs, Helen comes to Trevor’s door—she tells Isobel that Diana is at the front door, but she can’t stand another minute of her. She asks... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Storytelling, Fiction, Narrative, and Escape Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
Diana becomes irate, believing that Nick is here in the house. Isobel insists that Nick is... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
Isobel asks Diana what she’s going to do for money—Diana says that she doesn’t care, though, as she... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Storytelling, Fiction, Narrative, and Escape Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
Together, Diana and Isobel walk down the road. Diana invites Isobel to come over to her house... (full context)
Mothers, Daughters, and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Isobel finds herself thinking that Diana lit up at the bus stop because she wanted to claim Isobel as her new... (full context)
Mothers, Daughters, and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
After dinner, Isobel is hit with the fear that Diana herself has a “date” tonight—she fears Diana is going to kill herself, and that Isobel... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
Isobel wants to go to Fifty-One to see if she can find anything out about Diana, but does not dare—she does not want to be seen showing a special interest in... (full context)
Storytelling, Fiction, Narrative, and Escape Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
At the café that Saturday, there is no talk of Diana—Isobel figures that if she had died, the group would be talking about her. Trevor is... (full context)
Storytelling, Fiction, Narrative, and Escape Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
...car hit him, and today he has passed away. Helen asks Isobel to go to Diana and break the news to her—Helen knows it’s a terrible task, but can’t think of... (full context)
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
...coworkers bring her tea and help her look at maps to navigate her way to Diana’s flat. Isobel takes comfort in her coworkers’ kindness. Mr. Walter sends her on her way,... (full context)
Mothers, Daughters, and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Violence Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
Isobel gets off the train in Diana’s neighborhood and finds her way to Diana’s “narrow, dingy white, shabby” apartment building. She knocks... (full context)
Storytelling, Fiction, Narrative, and Escape Theme Icon
Transience and The Search For Belonging Theme Icon
...the shameful thought, but cannot suppress it. At Fifty-one, Helen greets Isobel and asks how Diana took the news. Isobel tells Helen that Diana didn’t react much at all. Outside, there... (full context)