Spies

by

Michael Frayn

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Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward Character Analysis

Keith’s calm and composed mother, who Keith proclaims is a German spy and is made the subject of the two boys’ spy operations. Stephen, whom she initially addresses only indirectly, describes her as suspicious because she often writes letters and runs errands for her sister, Auntie Dee, disappearing into the shops on the Avenue and reappearing in Auntie Dee’s house “all in such a smooth, unhurried way.” Later in the story, it is revealed that Keith’s mother actually is hiding a grave secret—she has secretly been taking care of Uncle Peter, who has deserted the British army and with whom the novel suggests Keith’s mother is having an affair. Eventually, this leads to Keith’s mother falling out with her sister. She has an abusive relationship with her husband, who uses violent methods to punish her and, later, even keeps a strict watch on her after he has most likely figured out her secret. Keith’s father calls her “Bobs” near the end of the story. It is likely that Stephen harbors a confused crush on Mrs. Hayward, as evident by the way the scent of privet reminds him of the sexual urgency he feels whenever he is sitting in the lookout with Keith’s mother alone. Overall she is a tragic figure, and by the end of the book her life has seemingly been ruined.

Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward Quotes in Spies

The Spies quotes below are all either spoken by Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward or refer to Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward. 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 2 Quotes

Gratitude not only to Keith's mother but to Keith himself, to all the others after him whose adjutant and audience I was, and to everyone else who wrote and performed the drama of life in which I had a small, often frightening, but always absorbing part: Thank you for having me. Thank you, thank you.

Page Number: 31-32
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

Yes, there’s a sinister unnoticeability about the whole performance, now that we know the truth behind it. There’s something clearly wrong about her, if you really look at her and listen to her as we now do.

Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

I feel more strongly than ever the honor of my association with Keith. His family have taken on the heroic proportions of characters in a legend—noble father and traitorous mother playing out the never-ending conflict between good and evil, between light and dark.

Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

It's like the War Effort and the perpetual sense of strain it induces, of guilt for not doing enough toward it. The War Effort hangs over us for the Duration, and both the Duration and the long examination board of childhood will last forever.

Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

Even before this there were a lot of things piling up that I couldn’t tell Keith about. Barbara Berrill’s visit. Her stupid stories about his mother and his aunt. Now I’ve been burdened with another secret that I have to keep from him. But how can we possibly proceed if I don't tell him this one?

Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

So far as I can piece it together, as the heir to Stephen’s thoughts, he neither thought she was nor didn’t think she was. Without Keith there to tell him what to think he’d stopped thinking about it all. Most of the time you don't go around thinking that things are so or not so, any more than you go around understanding or not understanding them. You take them for granted.

Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

What exactly was this unthinkable something? Nothing exactly. What's unthinkable can’t in its nature be exactly anything. Its inexactitude is what makes it so overpowering.

Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Spies LitChart as a printable PDF.
Spies PDF

Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward Character Timeline in Spies

The timeline below shows where the character Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward appears in Spies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
...the word starts to bring up more memories and Stephen recalls specific visions: his friend Keith’s mother laughing, and then weeping; “A shower of sparks . . . A feeling of shame... (full context)
Chapter 2
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...the unlikely scenario of Keith asking his mother to visit Stephen’s house; Stephen believes that Keith’s mother would have deferred to Keith’s father, and Keith’s father would have given Keith another chore... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
...into their home. They did not interact with anyone else in the neighborhood, except for Keith’s mother ’s sister, Auntie Dee, who lived three doors down. Stephen describes Auntie Dee as being... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Stephen then describes how he once went into Keith’s mother ’s sitting room and thanked her for inviting him over; even as an adult, he... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Stephen recounts a time when a policeman arrived at the Close to apparently arrest Keith’s mother . But Stephen then corrects himself again, and resituates the memory to an earlier time... (full context)
Chapter 3
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...Stephen states that his younger self was not curious about whether Keith’s father knew about Keith’s mother ’s secret. Instead, he felt regretful for having received such kindness from Keith’s mother. (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Once he takes Keith’s word as true, Stephen starts to think that it explains why Keith’s mother sends so many letters. He also believes that it explains why, of all houses, Miss... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
 Stephen and Keith begin spying on Keith’s mother as she takes care of errands and household duties. They create a notebook for observations,... (full context)
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen runs home for lunch, thinking about their plans to investigate the sitting room while Keith’s mother is resting in her bedroom. As Stephen gulps down his lunch, Stephen’s mother prods him... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...everyone is still having lunch, and Stephen thinks about how unfortunate it will be when Keith’s mother is exposed. When he hears Keith’s father whistling outside the house, Stephen knows that the... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...in the house start chiming, the boys rush out of the room and run into Keith’s mother . She seems suspicious but also curious about what they’re doing. She tells them to... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...himself—under pain of having his throat cut. They then make further plans to spy on Keith’s mother as often as possible, and to use the privet lookout as their headquarters. When Stephen... (full context)
Chapter 4
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen is daydreaming of spying on Keith’s mother when his teacher asks him a question and impatiently waits for him to answer. At... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the equation 7x^2 = 63, but Stephen is distracted by the moon outside, thinking of Keith’s mother ’s “x” marking the new moon for her own sinister purposes. Stephen then claims that... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...to bedtime, Stephen finds a chance to escape to the lookout, where he runs into Keith’s mother . Both are startled. Assuming Stephen was headed towards her house and son, she sends... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...people at their house, and they speak in a foreign language. Stephen decides that if Keith’s mother can be a spy, then so can his father. Feeling frustrated, he thinks that Keith’s... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen is just about to leave when they suddenly see Keith’s mother leaving the house to go to Auntie Dee’s. At that moment, Stephen begins to realize... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Keith’s mother leaves Auntie Dee’s house to go shopping for her. Keith runs after his mother to... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
In the following days, Stephen and Keith try to find the secret passageway taken by Keith’s mother , as they keep watch in the lookout. They look under a manhole cover and... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Back in the flashback, Stephen is at the lookout alone and tries to follow Keith’s mother to the Avenue, but the same thing happens again and he finds her at Auntie... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
As it is getting darker, the boys find Keith’s mother going to Auntie Dee’s house again and coming out to turn around the corner. They... (full context)
Chapter 5
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen states that the slime on Keith’s mother ’s hands was from the tunnel. She does not go to the Avenue, but instead... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Suddenly hearing footsteps approaching, the boys hide behind some undergrowth and see Keith’s mother , going through the hole in the fence and walking back towards the Close with... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...by the mystery of the “X”, and he dreams of both his own mother and Keith’s mother . The next day Stephen waits for Keith in the lookout, thinking about Keith’s mother... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...talk to Stephen about Keith, and he keeps trying to ignore her. Then Stephen sees Keith’s mother walking empty-handed to Auntie Dee’s house; she immediately comes out with a shopping basket and... (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 from the black market. Stephen dismisses... (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 Deirdre and Geoff have... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...for listening to her silly chatter, and for having entertained a “momentary suspicion that [ Keith’s mother is] not a German spy at all.” He sees Keith’s mother returning to Auntie Dee’s... (full context)
Secrecy Theme Icon
The following day, Stephen is in the lookout alone when Keith’s mother , who is feeding the pigs, speaks to him from outside the bushes. She says... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith’s mother gives Stephen two chocolate biscuits and apologizes that Keith cannot play today. She comments on... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith’s mother tells Stephen that she’s glad that Keith has found a friend in him, since “he... (full context)
Chapter 6
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the Close underneath the light of the full moon (noting that the new moon, when Keith’s mother ’s “x” meeting will be, is thus not far away). He feels conflicted, since he... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...tunnel at night to check the tin box and prove once and for all that Keith’s mother is a spy. He decides that this will be a “single heroic deed” that he... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...to dissuade him, he confidently tells his mother that they are going out to play. Keith’s mother reminds Stephen to avoid causing any mischief. They go through the tunnel, with Stephen feeling... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
As Stephen starts to head back in shame, he hears footsteps— Keith’s mother is approaching. The two boys hide, with Stephen pressing his face to the ground in... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...Haywards’ house they find Keith’s father, dressed in his Home Guard uniform and waiting for Keith’s mother , who is not back from Auntie Dee’s. Keith’s mother then appears with a shopping... (full context)
Chapter 7
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
...that his younger self had probably been thinking that he had broken his promise to Keith’s mother and let her down. He decides that younger Stephen both did and did not think... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...to decide what to think for him. He mentions that regardless of whether or not Keith’s mother was a spy, he was sure that she acted suspiciously (and he doesn’t really know... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Stephen finally gathers up the courage to knock on the Haywards’ door. Keith’s mother opens the door and invites Stephen in to play. He finds Keith quietly cleaning his... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...he’ll be punished every day until the thermos is returned. Keith’s father then asks about Keith’s mother —who’s supposedly at Auntie Dee’s—and smiles a strange smile. Then he goes into the garage... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...do something to make things right. He knows the thermos is in the Barns (where Keith’s mother had taken it), and he decides to go back to retrieve it, hoping to find... (full context)
Chapter 8
Secrecy Theme Icon
...He sees Keith and Keith’s father outside the house once in a while, but never Keith’s mother . He considers the idea of telling a grown-up everything he knows, so he tries... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...instead of his mother. Stephen feels guilty because he thinks it is his fault that Keith’s mother cannot leave the house. Barbara speculates that Keith’s mother was caught with a boyfriend and... (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 her heel strap is broken and sends... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the lookout with Barbara, feeling like a failure. Barbara tells him that it must be Keith’s mother ’s boyfriend that caused the whirl of events. She says that her mother went out... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...Barbara keep smoking, lie down in the dirt, and “talk about things.” Barbara speculates about Keith’s mother ’s boyfriend, and Stephen wants to tell her that Keith’s mother is a German spy,... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
...house) everywhere. The word “Lamorna” then becomes stuck in Stephen’s head, representing both Barbara and Keith’s mother for him, and some of the mystery of the word “bosom” and women in general. (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen then begins to piece together the puzzle: he thinks Keith’s mother isn’t a spy, but is instead taking care of “x,” a German airman who was... (full context)
Chapter 9
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...memory unfold in front of him, as his younger self sits in the lookout with Keith’s mother . She seems even more “perfect” than she was before, because she has more make-up... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith’s mother explains that the man (who she only refers to as “he”) does not have a... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith’s mother cries harder, and Stephen feels awful. Stephen thinks that he has turned Keith’s mother and... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith’s mother keeps speaking, mostly to herself, about how cruel life can be sometimes, and how much... (full context)
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... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Keith’s mother suddenly comes into the garage and finds the two. She sees the basket, which has... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the Barns, and hears the man coughing under the sheet of corrugated iron. Stephen imagines Keith’s mother coming here, leaving her world of “silver ornaments and silver chimes” and descending into this... (full context)
Chapter 10
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...voice: it was not foreign or tramp-like, but familiar. The man asks if “Bobs” ( Keith’s mother ’s nickname) had sent him, and this shocks Stephen because he had previously only heard... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
The man asks for Keith’s mother , but Stephen , who can mostly just shake or nod his head in response,... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Stephen then tries to leave, but the man asks him to stay. He asks why Keith’s mother picked Stephen for this task, but Stephen can only shrug. The man comments on how... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the very beginning.” The man then hands Stephen a piece of silk to give to Keith’s mother , and he tells Stephen to tell her, “forever.” Stephen takes the silk and runs... (full context)
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...with him all the next day, trying to figure out how to get it to Keith’s mother and tell her the word “forever.” In hopes of meeting her, after school Stephen goes... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Stephen sees Auntie Dee and Milly leaving the Haywards’ house, with Milly crying loudly. Keith’s mother follows them, but when she reaches Auntie Dee’s house the door is shut. Keith’s mother... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...Keith has learned this kind of torture from his father, and he suddenly realizes why Keith’s mother wears a scarf in the middle of the summer. (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
...finds out 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... (full context)