On the Face of It

by

Susan Hill

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on On the Face of It can help.
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.
Need another quote?
Need analysis on another quote?
Need analysis for a quote we don't cover?
Need analysis for a quote we don't cover?
Need analysis for a quote we don't cover?
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
Request it
Request it
Request analysis
Request analysis
Request analysis
Scene One Quotes

DERRY: I thought it was empty….an empty house.

MR LAMB: So it is. Since I’m out here in the garden. It is empty. Until I go back inside. In the meantime, I’m out here and likely to stop. A day like this. Beautiful day. Not a day to be indoors.

DERRY: [Panic] I’ve got to go.

MR LAMB: Not on my account. I don’t mind who comes into the garden. The gate’s always open. Only you climbed the garden wall.

DERRY: [Angry] You were watching me.

MR LAMB: I saw you. But the gate’s open. All welcome. You’re welcome. I sit here. I like sitting.

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

MR LAMB: You want me to ask….say so, then.

DERRY: I don’t like being with people. Any people.

MR LAMB: I should say….to look at it…. I should say, you got burned in a fire.

DERRY: Not in a fire. I got acid all down that side of my face and it burned it all away. It ate my face up. It ate me up. And now it’s like this and it won’t ever be any different.

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

MR LAMB: Some call them weeds. If you like, then….a weed garden, that. There’s fruit and there are flowers, and trees and herbs. All sorts. But over there….weeds. I grow weeds there. Why is one green, growing plant called a weed and another ‘flower’? Where’s the difference. It’s all life….growing. Same as you and me.

DERRY: We’re not the same.

MR LAMB: I’m old. You’re young. You’ve got a burned face, I’ve got a tin leg. Not important. You’re standing there…. I’m sitting here. Where’s the difference?

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Related Symbols: Weeds
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

DERRY: […] Do you know, one day, a woman went by me in the street — I was at a bus-stop — and she was with another woman, and she looked at me, and she said….whispered….only I heard her…. she said, “Look at that, that’s a terrible thing. That’s a face only a mother could love.”

MR LAMB: So you believe everything you hear, then?

DERRY: It was cruel.

[…]

MR LAMB: And is that the only thing you ever heard anyone say, in your life?

DERRY: Oh no! I’ve heard a lot of things.

MR LAMB: So now you keep your ears shut.

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

DERRY: I don’t like being near people. When they stare….when I see them being afraid of me.

MR LAMB: You could lock yourself up in a room and never leave it. There was a man who did that. He was afraid, you see. Of everything. Everything in this world. A bus might run him over, or a man might breathe deadly germs onto him, or a donkey might kick him to death, or lightning might strike him down, or he might love a girl and the girl would leave him, and he might slip on a banana skin and fall and people who saw him would laugh their heads off. So he went into this room, and locked the door, and got into his bed, and stayed there.

DERRY: For ever?

MR LAMB: For a while.

DERRY: Then what?

MR LAMB: A picture fell off the wall on to his head and killed him.

[Derry laughs a lot]

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 61-62
Explanation and Analysis:

MR LAMB: I’m not fond of curtains. Shutting things out, shutting things in. I like the light and the darkness, and the windows open, to hear the wind.

DERRY: Yes. I like that. When it’s raining, I like to hear it on the roof.

MR LAMB: So you’re not lost, are you? Not altogether? You do hear things. You listen.

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

DERRY: Do you have any friends?

MR LAMB: Hundreds.

DERRY: But you live by yourself in that house. It’s a big house, too.

MR LAMB: Friends everywhere. People come in…. everybody knows me. The gate’s always open. They come and sit here. And in front of the fire in winter. Kids come for the apples and pears. And for toffee. I make toffee with honey. Anybody comes. So have you.

DERRY: But I’m not a friend.

MR LAMB: Certainly you are. As far as I’m concerned. What have you done to make me think you’re not?

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

DERRY: Those other people who come here….do they talk to you? Ask you things?

MR LAMB: Some do, some don’t. I ask them. I like to learn.

DERRY: I don’t believe in them. I don’t think anybody ever comes. You’re here all by yourself and miserable and no one would know if you were alive or dead and nobody cares.

MR LAMB: You think what you please.

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

DERRY: I think you’re daft….crazy….

MR LAMB: That’s a good excuse.

DERRY: What for? You don’t talk sense.

MR LAMB: Good excuse not to come back. And you’ve got a burned-up face, and that’s other people’s excuse.

DERRY: You’re like the others, you like to say things like that. If you don’t feel sorry for my face, you’re frightened of it, and if you’re not frightened, you think I’m ugly as a devil. I am a devil. Don’t you? [Shouts]

[Mr Lamb does not reply. He has gone to his bees.]

DERRY: [Quietly] No. You don’t. I like it here.

Related Characters: Mr. Lamb (speaker), Derry (speaker)
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Scene Three Quotes

DERRY: […] Mr Lamb, It’s all right….You fell….I’m here, Mr Lamb, It’s all right.

[Silence]

I came back. Lamey-Lamb. I did…..come back.

[Derry begins to weep.]

Related Characters: Derry (speaker), Mr. Lamb
Page Number: 68-69
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.