Life After Life

Life After Life

by

Kate Atkinson

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Nancy Shawcross Character Analysis

Millie’s younger sister and Teddy’s childhood sweetheart. Nancy’s fate is inextricably linked to Ursula’s because in some timelines, she is murdered by an unknown man while she walking home alone. In others, however, Ursula is able to walk Nancy home and thus prevent her murder. In the iterations in which Nancy lives, she and Teddy continue their relationship, and it is implied that they will marry after the war.

Nancy Shawcross Quotes in Life After Life

The Life After Life quotes below are all either spoken by Nancy Shawcross or refer to Nancy Shawcross. 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.
The Broad Sunlit Uplands, May 1945 Quotes

Ursula stayed where she was, worried suddenly that if she moved it would all disappear, the whole happy scene break into pieces before her eyes. But then she thought, no, this was real, this was true, and she laughed with uncomplicated joy as Teddy let go of Nancy long enough to stand to attention and give Ursula a smart salute.

Page Number: 525
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nancy Shawcross Character Timeline in Life After Life

The timeline below shows where the character Nancy Shawcross appears in Life After Life. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Like a Fox in a Hole, August 1926 (I)
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
Fate vs. Choice Theme Icon
...night at the dinner table, Major Shawcross knocks on the door, asking if they’ve seen Nancy—they haven’t. He looks sick, saying she’s missed her dinner. Teddy offers to help look for... (full context)
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
...to school in the fall, and no one questions her. “Millie [is] too grief-stricken over Nancy” to worry about Ursula. Instead, Ursula attends a secretarial college run by a man named... (full context)
Like a Fox in a Hole, June 1932
Family and Love Theme Icon
Living alone, Ursula realizes how few friends she has—her friendship with Millie didn’t survive Nancy’s death. Ursula works for an importing company but isn’t friends with any of the girls... (full context)
Family and Love Theme Icon
...and has been working on the land and writing poetry. He had been heartbroken by Nancy’s death, and describes his pain like walking into a room and feeling his life has... (full context)
Like a Fox in a Hole, August 1926 (II)
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
...fine. On the way home, Ursula is still drenched in fear when she comes across Nancy Shawcross. Ursula offers to walk her home. As they approach a dairy field, a man... (full context)
A Lovely Day Tomorrow (II), April 1940
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
...the journey was too challenging. Jimmy has a few days’ leave and Teddy has brought Nancy along as well. Hugh asks Teddy when he’s going to pop the question; Nancy blushes... (full context)
A Lovely Day Tomorrow (III), August 1926
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
Fate vs. Choice Theme Icon
Ursula walks to the train station and encounters Nancy on the way back. They are then overtaken by Benjamin Cole on his bike, who... (full context)
A Long Hard War, October 1940 (II)
Family and Love Theme Icon
...Jimmy couldn’t get leave, but Teddy had shown up at the last minute. He and Nancy hold each other. Izzie had also arrived from California just a few days before Hugh’s... (full context)
A Long Hard War, May 1941
Family and Love Theme Icon
...a drink. He doesn’t want to talk about flying, about the war, or even about Nancy (who is apparently doing some job in the government that she can’t talk about). They... (full context)
A Long Hard War, November 1943
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
Family and Love Theme Icon
War and Death Theme Icon
...a funeral. Teddy’s status has since changed from “missing in action” to “missing, presumed dead.” Nancy is there as well, and she tells Ursula that she will always love Teddy. She... (full context)
Family and Love Theme Icon
War and Death Theme Icon
Nancy asks Ursula to find out if there’s even a chance Teddy could still be alive,... (full context)
The End of the Beginning
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
...across the field. When Ursula returns home, Major Shawcross arrives, wondering if anyone has seen Nancy. After they discover her body, Ursula and Benjamin realize that if they had crossed the... (full context)
The Broad Sunlit Uplands, May 1945
Life, Reincarnation, and Alternate Possibilities Theme Icon
Fate vs. Choice Theme Icon
Family and Love Theme Icon
War and Death Theme Icon
Teddy phones Nancy from the pub. A half hour later, Nancy arrives with Ursula. Nancy runs and throws... (full context)