Spies

by

Michael Frayn

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Barbara, who is one year older than Stephen, lives in house No. 6 on the Close. Younger Stephen considers her to be annoying and typically “girlish.” She is often said to be wearing her school frock and purse “made of bobbly blue leather and closed with a shiny blue popper.” She shows interest in Stephen by frequently appearing at his and Keith’s secret hiding place and revealing certain gossip about the people in the Close. Although Stephen constantly expresses his frustration towards her, he hints at a mutual interest in her. Stephen and Barbara smoke cigarettes together in the lookout and they eventually kiss each other. In essence, Barbara marks a kind of estrangement of Stephen from Keith, and introduces Stephen to a different and more adult life.

Barbara Berrill Quotes in Spies

The Spies quotes below are all either spoken by Barbara Berrill or refer to Barbara Berrill. 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:
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Picador edition of Spies published in 2003.
Chapter 3 Quotes

She just is his mother, in the same way that Mrs. Sheldon's Mrs. Sheldon, and Barbara Berrill's beneath our notice, and my family’s slightly disgraceful. Everyone knows that these things are so. They don't have to be

explained or justified.

Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Lamorna. I find the word on my tongue over and over again, saying itself of its own accord. Lamorna is the softness of Barbara Berrill's dress as she leaned across me to look in the trunk. Lamorna is the correct scientific description of the contrast between the bobbly texture of her purse and the smooth shininess of its button. Lamorna is the indoor-firework smell of the match, and its two shining reflections in her eyes. But Lamorna is also the name of the softness in Keith's mother's voice…

Related Characters: Stephen Wheatley (speaker), Barbara Berrill
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Spies LitChart as a printable PDF.
Spies PDF

Barbara Berrill Character Timeline in Spies

The timeline below shows where the character Barbara Berrill appears in Spies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the neighborhood, commenting on the other children of the Close, including the “sly and treacherous” Barbara Berrill and her sister Deirdre, who has been hanging around with Stephen’s older brother Geoff... (full context)
Chapter 4
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
One day, Barbara Berrill comes up to Stephen and Keith while they are in their lookout, and asks... (full context)
Chapter 5
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith never shows up, and instead Stephen is visited by Barbara, who makes fun of the mistake of the “privet” sign. She teases Stephen for not... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Barbara keeps trying to talk to Stephen about Keith, and he keeps trying to ignore her.... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Barbara then suggests that they follow Keith’s mother.  Barbara speculates that she may be buying items... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Then Barbara wonders if Keith’s mother is taking a message to Auntie Dee’s boyfriend. She explains that... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Barbara, her face very close to Stephen’s, states that many mothers have boyfriends while their husbands... (full context)
Chapter 6
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...Stephen feels burdened by all the secrets he has to hide from Keith, such as Barbara’s intrusion, her gossip about Keith’s mother and Auntie Dee, and his own conversation with Keith’s... (full context)
Chapter 8
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen is in the lookout alone when Barbara joins him again. They see Keith going shopping for Auntie Dee—he now does it instead... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen and Barbara continue to watch the Haywards. Keith's mother lingers, contemplating the sky, and then pretends that... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...last night,” speculating that it could be a peeping Tom or even a sexual deviant. Barbara is there with the other children, and she looks significantly at Stephen, showing that she... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Later Stephen sits in the lookout with Barbara, feeling like a failure. Barbara tells him that it must be Keith’s mother’s boyfriend that... (full context)
Secrecy Theme Icon
Barbara asks Stephen if he has ever smoked a cigarette, and he claims that he has,... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Barbara asks Stephen for a match, and then leans over Stephen to examine the locked box... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Barbara finds a box of matches and the two start smoking the cigarette. Stephen feels a... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
...that everything has changed once again, as he starts to notice the scent of Lamorna (Barbara’s house) everywhere. The word “Lamorna” then becomes stuck in Stephen’s head, representing both Barbara and... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...and because of the “generalized excitement” Stephen feels in the air, which is associated with Barbara Berrill and Keith’s mother’s “softness” when Stephen ran into her in the tunnel. Stephen again... (full context)
Chapter 9
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
After Keith’s mother leaves, Barbara comes into the lookout, asking what Keith’s mother had said. Stephen tries not to reveal... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
As they are smoking, Barbara looks through the basket, which contains eggs, bacon, potatoes, carrots, Spam, corned beef, and medicine... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...moment Keith’s father approaches the lookout and asks Stephen to have a word with him. Barbara hurriedly puts the items back in the basket, and whispers to Stephen that he mustn’t... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...with his math homework. Neither boy says anything. Stephen then runs into the street, where Barbara tries to question him, but he keeps running all the way to his “Mummy.” (full context)
Chapter 10
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...In hopes of meeting her, after school Stephen goes to the lookout and finds that Barbara has made it tidy and changed the sign from "Privet" to "Private." At first he... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...reveal their secret things. Keith then opens the box and takes out the cigarette packet Barbara had brought—proof that she did see what was in the box. (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...parents also ask about the missing rations, and Geoff speculates about what could have happened. Barbara then knocks on their door to ask for Stephen, but he continues crying. (full context)
Chapter 11
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...that Uncle Peter has gone missing and Auntie Dee has fallen out with Keith’s mother. Barbara started ignoring Stephen and hanging out with another boy, causing Stephen great pain at the... (full context)