Life After Life

Life After Life

by

Kate Atkinson

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Derek Oliphant Character Analysis

Ursula’s abusive husband. Ursula is driven to marry Derek following her rape, pregnancy, and abortion. Derek is very traditional and exacting when it comes to what he expects of his household and of Ursula. When Ursula is unable to meet these standards, he beats her. Eventually Ursula runs away to Izzie’s, but Derek follows her. When he finds Ursula and Teddy together, he assumes that she is sleeping with another man and beats her to death.

Derek Oliphant Quotes in Life After Life

The Life After Life quotes below are all either spoken by Derek Oliphant or refer to Derek Oliphant. 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:
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hachette edition of Life After Life published in 2013.
Like a Fox in a Hole, Jun 1932 Quotes

“Intact?” Ursula echoed, staring at Sylvie in the mirror. What did that mean, that she was flawed? Or broken?

“One’s maidenhood,” Sylvie said. “Deflowering,” she added impatiently when she saw Ursula’s blank expression. “For someone who is far from innocent you seem remarkably naive.”

Related Characters: Ursula Todd (speaker), Sylvie Todd (speaker), Hugh Todd, Derek Oliphant, Howie
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

She no longer recognized herself, she thought. She had taken the wrong path, opened the wrong door, and was unable to find her way back.

Related Characters: Ursula Todd, Sylvie Todd, Derek Oliphant, Howie
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

Derek’s whole life was a fabrication. [...] What had he wanted from her? Someone weaker than himself? Or a wife, a mother of his children, someone running his house, all the trappings of the vie quotidienne but without any of its underlying chaos.

Related Characters: Ursula Todd, Derek Oliphant
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
The Land of Begin Again, Aug 1939 Quotes

Powerful men needed their women to be unchallenging, the home should not be an arena for intellectual debate. “My own husband told me this so it must be true!” she wrote to Pamela.

Page Number: 359
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Life After Life LitChart as a printable PDF.
Life After Life PDF

Derek Oliphant Character Timeline in Life After Life

The timeline below shows where the character Derek Oliphant appears in Life After Life. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Like a Fox in a Hole, June 1932
Family and Love Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
...blood, and helps her to her feet, asking if she’s okay. He introduces himself as Derek Oliphant. Three months later, they are married. (full context)
Family and Love Theme Icon
Derek is a history teacher, and their courtship consists of long bike rides and visiting pleasant... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
Ursula and Derek marry in a registrar’s office, witnessed only by Hugh, Sylvie, and Derek’s mother. Pamela and... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
Ursula and Derek move into a house close to his school, which Derek had bought and furnished without... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
On the first night of their honeymoon, Derek seems not to notice that Ursula is not “intact.” He brags rather pompously that he... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
...becomes one of keeping house, making sure everything is washed, scrubbed, dusted, folded, ironed, swept. Derek is very particular, and banishes Ursula from his company most evenings so that he can... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
...was really in need of extra money she could always ask Izzie or Hugh, but Derek would be mortified if she did this while they were married because it would be... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
...if she doesn’t get a pastime, and so she takes up tennis. When she tells Derek over breakfast, he is angry that she didn’t ask for permission before doing so, and... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
One afternoon, Ursula and Derek go to his mother’s house. Derek is dispatched on several jobs around the house, and... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
The next day, Derek scolds Ursula for the breakfast she makes, saying sarcastically that she does nothing all day... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
Derek gives Ursula money to buy a hat for “sports day”—an event at his school. When... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
Derek walks up to Ursula, saying “hello, dear,” and kissing her on the cheek. Ursula can’t... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
That evening, Derek stays at school for dinner. Ursula goes into his “study” (what had once been the... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
At that moment, Derek returns home, asking Ursula what she’s doing. She calls him a liar, and asks him... (full context)
Family and Love Theme Icon
...Ursula up immediately. He asks what happened to her face, and then if she’s left Derek. He’s happy to hear that she has. Teddy had recently announced that he wants to... (full context)
Gender Roles and Expectations Theme Icon
...tired, until the doorbell rings. She answers it, presuming that it is Izzie—but it is Derek. She is so shocked she can’t speak. He twists her arm back and marches her... (full context)
Family and Love Theme Icon
...cannot see because of the blood in her eyes, but she can hear Teddy and Derek fighting. She thinks that she doesn’t mind dying, as long as Teddy is safe. She... (full context)
The End of the Beginning
Fate vs. Choice Theme Icon
...on her nose. A man comes over and tries to help her—he introduces himself as Derek Oliphant. Ursula knows him, but she also doesn’t know him. She gets to her feet... (full context)