My Family and Other Animals

by

Gerald Durrell

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My Family and Other Animals: Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Over the end of summer and all of winter, Spiro drives Gerry into town to see Theodore every Thursday. Theodore welcomes Gerry into his study, which is lined with books on "sensible subjects" like biology, astronomy, and folklore, with ghost and crime stories as well. After exchanging pleasantries, Theodore begins showing Gerry slides on his microscopes, and they spend hours poring over slides and consulting books. As they have tea, Theodore talks enthusiastically about all manner of subjects, all of which fascinate Gerry. Finally, Gerry rejoins Spiro in the car, dreaming of the coming spring when he and Theodore will be able to capture creatures.
Gerry's insistence that Theodore's books are all on sensible subjects suggests again that Gerry isn't against all education, just education that he doesn't find interesting. This shows that at least for Gerry, he's not necessarily opposed to growing up and being educated; he just wants to pick and choose what kind of education he gets and, by extension, what kind of adult he grows into.
Themes
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Finally, as March arrives, spring comes too. Flowers burst into bloom and the cypress trees sprout new leaves. Frogs sing in ditches and Gerry thinks that even the wine in the village seems redder. Larry buys himself a guitar and a barrel of wine, and spends his evenings singing love songs and drinking. One evening, Mother and Larry spend the evening home together and when Gerry, Margo, and Leslie return, they find both of them in a fit of drunken depression.
Again, the focus on the changes in nature positions the natural world as a being something that changes and grows alongside the human characters. Further, the changing seasons also have an effect on the human characters, as evidenced by Larry's decision to buy wine and a guitar.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Mother spends most of her time cultivating vegetables and cooking delightful meals, and Larry develops indigestion. He refuses to do anything about it but take baking soda, even though Margo suggests various diets to combat the indigestion and Larry's weight gain. Margo begins spending time at the sea, swimming with a young Turk. She neglects to tell anyone about her rendezvous with the Turk, but Spiro eventually shares the news with Mother. Spiro believes the Turk will certainly slit Margo's throat.
It's worth noting that at various points throughout the novel, romance causes Margo to spend more time in nature. This suggests that her happiness and her relationships make her more receptive to the beauty and other pleasant qualities of the natural world, offering a way for others besides Gerry to enjoy nature.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
When Mother approaches Margo about the Turk and suggests he come for tea, Margo is delighted. Mother bakes a cake and warns everyone to be on their best behavior, which proves difficult: the Turk turns out to be condescending and smug. Mother overdoes the charm while Larry and Leslie nastily engage the Turk in conversation. The Turk appears oblivious, and the next day invites Margo to the cinema. Mother decides to go as a chaperone despite Margo's protests.
Though Gerry narrates this series of events, he doesn't mention that he participates much at all. This could suggest that the Turk treats him like a child, or simply that he's less interested in joining in on these human interactions in favor of the animal ones he narrates so carefully.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
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Leslie, Larry, and Gerry wait up for Margo and Mother's return long past when they expected them to return. They finally return at 1:30am and explain that they had an awful evening: the Turk wore horrendous perfume, Mother got a flea in her corset, and among other mishaps, the Turk insisted they take a cab home instead of a car. He sang the entire way and even tried to walk them up the hill to the house. Mother turns to Margo and tells her to choose boyfriends more carefully in the future.
The fact that Larry, Leslie, and Gerry wait up to hear the news suggests that the absurdity of the Turk is grand entertainment for them, which in turn indicates that they're becoming acclimated to the overall absurdity of the island as a whole. Regular mishaps like this become far more interesting when even the mundane is treated as such.
Themes
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
Leslie purchases a double-barreled shotgun to shoot turtledoves and wood pigeons and invites Gerry to come along one morning. He shoots five doves and as they head back to the villa, they wave at Yani and his goats. Gerry wonders how anyone could be anything but happy during such a beautiful season.
Passages like these evoke a sense of community and tie it specifically to the beauty of the outdoors. Just as Margo finds happiness in nature with her boyfriends, everyone else similarly can't help experiencing joy on Corfu.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon