Spies

by

Michael Frayn

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Spies can help.
Keith’s uncle and Auntie Dee’s husband, who is an air force officer supposedly away at war, but is actually hiding in a field. He is glorified in the novel for his participation in the Royal Air Force, and his service is a point of pride for Auntie Dee. Stephen explains that she even mirrors his person with her messy home and reckless yet cheerful personality. It is implied that Uncle Peter has deserted his post in the air force, most likely due to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or his discomfort in being involved in the British bombing efforts, which were controversial for their indiscriminate targeting of civilians. However, as Stephen notes, Uncle Peter is still glorified in the Close for his participation in the war, making his desertion all the more disappointing and important to be kept secret. In Uncle Peter’s interactions with Stephen, it is revealed that he has loved Keith’s mother from the very beginning and hints at the fact that they are involved in a secret affair.

Uncle Peter / the Man Quotes in Spies

The Spies quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Peter / the Man or refer to Uncle Peter / the Man. 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 6 Quotes

We’ve come on a journey from the highest to the lowest—from the silver-framed heroes on the altars in the Haywards' house through the descending social gradations of the Close, from the Berrills and Geests to us, from us to the Pinchers, on down through the squalor of the Cottages and their wretched occupants, and then, reached even lower, to an old derelict taking refuge under a sheet of corrugated iron.

Related Characters: Stephen Wheatley (speaker), Keith Hayward, Uncle Peter / the Man
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Whoever and whatever he was or wasn’t, Stephen was still quite clear about one thing: he was a German. There was no way round that.

Related Characters: Stephen Wheatley (speaker), Uncle Peter / the Man
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Spies LitChart as a printable PDF.
Spies PDF

Uncle Peter / the Man Character Timeline in Spies

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Peter / the Man appears in Spies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Uncle Peter was in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and flew on secret missions over Germany. (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
...spread and lemon barley. He offers a description of a Wimbledon couples trophy on their mantelpiece—Keith said his parents would have been world champions if they hadn’t been cheated out of... (full context)
Chapter 3
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...her desk, which depict the four adults in Keith’s life: his parents, Auntie Dee, and Uncle Peter . (full context)
Chapter 4
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...Peter and his involvement in the war, and Keith’s mother passing these secrets on to Germany, with disastrous consequences. Then he wonders if Auntie Dee could also be a spy, and... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
...taken by Keith’s mother, as they keep watch in the lookout. They look under a manhole cover and underneath a loose board in the Hardiments’ garden, but find both unlikely to... (full context)
Chapter 5
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...it was a “Peeping Tom.” Stephen is incredulous at this information, but then thinks of Uncle Peter and feels sure that Barbara is making things up. (full context)
Chapter 6
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...the presence of another object with ridges and furrows. Then he hears the breathing of man. Stephen freezes, and hears the mysterious man feel his way towards the box and gasp... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Time fast-forwards and Keith is examining the sock. Stephen has told him about the man but didn’t say that he had the opportunity to see the man—instead, he says, he... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...promise to Keith’s mother. The box is gone. Keith is disappointed, and says that the man must have seen Stephen. Assuming his father’s demeanor, Keith scolds Stephen for being so child-like.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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
...suspiciously). He then shifts his focus onto “x” from the Barns. He assumes that the man is German, but simultaneously believes he is an old tramp, because tramps are covered in... (full context)
Chapter 8
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...says that her mother went out last night looking for Deirdre, and saw the mysterious man. Barbara then says that she knows where Deirdre was—with Geoff. She says that Deirdre and... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...about Keith’s mother’s boyfriend, and Stephen wants to tell her that Keith’s mother is a German spy, but realizes that the situation is more complicated than that. He then wonders if... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...he thinks Keith’s mother isn’t a spy, but is instead taking care of “x,” a German airman who was shot down. Stephen imagines the airman parachuting down, Keith’s mother finding him,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...way she broached the subject of asking Stephen to deliver a shopping basket to the man. He wonders if she ever explained to him why she couldn’t ask Keith, but Stephen... (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 ration book and is... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...he notices that the new moon will be the following night. Stephen thinks about the man dying in the hole in the Barns, and feels guilty and unhappy. Finally he gets... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...gone, but he does realize what he needs to do—he needs to go find the man and bring him some food and medicine. Stephen then spends his whole day at school... (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
...at him, but he makes it through. He then reaches the Barns, and hears the man coughing under the sheet of corrugated iron. Stephen imagines Keith’s mother coming here, leaving her... (full context)
Chapter 10
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...to move. He describes the 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... (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... (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... (full context)
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
The man then starts ruminating to himself, talking about playing the “game” of war and eventually, “up... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
...scarf around her neck today. He feels like he’ll never be able to deliver the man’s message to her. (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...and watches, and realizes that the people are coming not for Stephen, but for the man. (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
...causing Stephen great pain at the time. Stephen then reveals that there really was a German spy that summer—but that it was him. He admits that he is now “Stefan Weitzler.” (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Stephen explains that he was reborn as “Stephen” when his parents left Germany in 1935. His mother was English, so the whole family became the Wheatleys. He explains... (full context)
Class Difference and Social Status Theme Icon
Memory and the Self Theme Icon
War, Paranoia, and Belonging Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
...war on the neighborhood: notably, Keith became a barrister (lawyer). Stephen finally reveals that the man at the Barns was Uncle Peter, and Stephen wonders when he himself realized that fact,... (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
Stephen then thinks about Uncle Peter flying over and bombing Germany, and Stephen’s own aunt being killed in those bombings. Stephen announces that all mysteries have... (full context)