On the Face of It

by

Susan Hill

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On the Face of It: Scene Two Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 she refuses to let Derry go back to his house. Derry describes Lamb as just “an old man with a tin leg and he lives in a huge house without curtains and has a garden.” Derry declares that he wants to go back and sit and listen and think, because Mr. Lamb talks about things that no one else does.
This scene adds an extra layer to the conversation that just took place—Derry’s mother has been “warned” about something regarding Mr. Lamb, but it’s never made clear just what this is. It now seems more likely that Lamb doesn’t actually have “hundreds” of friends, and is considered by most to be an eccentric old man who lives totally alone. Derry, however, is now fully convinced of the connection he felt with Lamb, and wants to go back and spend more time with someone who remains open to the world and treats him like a full human being.
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Derry’s mother again forbids him from going, and Derry declares that he “hates” it at home. His mother says she forgives him for saying that, since “it” is bound to make him feel and say bad things. Derry exclaims that this has nothing to do with his face, and that he wants to go help Mr. Lamb pick apples, and to “look at things and listen.” He declares that he’s going to go no matter what his mother says, because “if I don’t go back there, I’ll never go anywhere in this world again.” He runs out of the house, saying to himself, “I want the world.”
Derry’s mother sees her son as a perpetual victim, and connects his entire being to his burned face, which is the opposite of what Derry himself wants. Derry has apparently also been swayed by Mr. Lamb’s love of nature and his embrace of a quiet existence of listening and contemplation. Derry has all the ambitions of any young person, but he has been denied so much that he can only find an outlet for his desires in brief moments of connection like that which he found with Lamb.
Themes
Human Connection and Openness Theme Icon
Disability and Perception Theme Icon
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
Nature, Observation, and Contemplation Theme Icon
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