On the Face of It

by

Susan Hill

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Derry’s Mother Character Analysis

Derry’s mother is given little characterization in the play, but she seems simultaneously overprotective and not understanding of her son. She contributes to his isolation by keeping him home because of his facial injury, and treats him with a sense of pity that robs him of dignity and agency—essentially treating him like a perpetually helpless victim. In the play, Derry’s mother forbids him from returning to Mr. Lamb’s house, but Derry leaves anyway, finally asserting himself in a positive way.

Derry’s Mother Quotes in On the Face of It

The On the Face of It quotes below are all either spoken by Derry’s Mother or refer to Derry’s Mother. 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:
Human Connection and Openness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the National Council of Education Research and Training edition of On the Face of It published in 2015.
Scene Two Quotes

DERRY: I hate it here.

MOTHER: You can’t help the things you say. I forgive you. It’s bound to make you feel bad things….and say them. I don’t blame you.

DERRY: It’s got nothing to do with my face and what I look like. I don’t care about that and it isn’t important. It’s what I think and feel and what I want to see and find out and hear. And I’m going back there. Only to help him with the crab apples. Only to look at things and listen. But I’m going.

MOTHER: You’ll stop here.

DERRY: Oh no, oh no. Because if I don’t go back there, I’ll never go anywhere in this world again.

[The door slams. Derry runs, panting.]

And I want the world….I want it….I want it….

Related Characters: Derry (speaker), Derry’s Mother (speaker), Mr. Lamb
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire On the Face of It LitChart as a printable PDF.
On the Face of It PDF

Derry’s Mother Character Timeline in On the Face of It

The timeline below shows where the character Derry’s Mother appears in On the Face of It. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene One
Disability and Perception Theme Icon
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
...stay ugly, like Derry himself. Derry says no one will ever kiss him, anyway, except his mother , and she only kisses the unburned half of his face, and only “because she... (full context)
Human Connection and Openness Theme Icon
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
...that if he’s going to help Mr. Lamb with the apples, he’ll need to let his mother know where he is, and he lives three miles away. Mr. Lamb says he could... (full context)
Scene Two
Human Connection and Openness Theme Icon
Disability and Perception Theme Icon
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
Now back at his house, Derry speaks with his mother . Derry’s mother says she has heard rumors about Mr. Lamb—has been “warned” about him—and... (full context)
Human Connection and Openness Theme Icon
Disability and Perception Theme Icon
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
Nature, Observation, and Contemplation Theme Icon
Derry’s mother again forbids him from going, and Derry declares that he “hates” it at home. His... (full context)