Small Island

Small Island


Andrea Levy

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Small Island can help.

Small Island: Chapter 8: Hortense Summary & Analysis

The night before she leaves Jamaica, Hortense stays in a small boardinghouse near the dock. The landlady cooks her dinner and questions her about her husband. Normally hostile to impolite prying, on her last night at home, Hortense is unusually talkative. She tells her that Gilbert has been alone in England for six months. The old woman is shocked, and exhorts Hortense to reunite with her husband before he’s corrupted by the English women. She also gives Hortense an enormous blanket that she started knitting for the soldiers but finished only after the war had ended.
Hortense is unconcerned by the woman’s injunction, probably because she doesn’t love Gilbert enough to be worried about his fidelity. Her interaction with the landlady foreshadows the problems that will arise when Hortense reaches England and has to live within a marriage of convenience to a relative stranger.
Redemption Theme Icon
Marriage and Women’s Roles Theme Icon