The Daughters of the Late Colonel

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Constantia Pinner Character Analysis

Constantia or “Con” is Josephine Pinner’s younger sister. She is softer and less turbulent than her sister—she sympathizes with a mouse in their room who is searching for crumbs—but ultimately helps Josephine leave their father’s room when her sister is overcome with emotion, demonstrating a kind of authority that she seems initially to lack. Though she is often dreamy and out of touch with reality—frequently drifting off into vague and wondering tangents, often about exotic destinations with “camels” in the desert—Constantia is also deeply suspicious, both of the native “runners” who deliver parcels in Ceylon and of Kate, who she believes rummages through her and Josephine’s belongings when they are gone. It is also mentioned that Constantia once pushed her brother Benny into “the round pond,” suggesting that she has a cruel streak (one disguised, perhaps, by her daydreaming). Constantia feels that the life she led while her father was alive was unreal, a kind of nightmare, but she cannot figure out what she wants from life now that she and Josephine have been freed from his command.

Constantia Pinner Quotes in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

The The Daughters of the Late Colonel quotes below are all either spoken by Constantia Pinner or refer to Constantia Pinner . 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:
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Daughters of the Late Colonel published in 1991.
The Daughters of the Late Colonel Quotes

Supposing father had wanted to say something—something private to them. Not that he had. Oh, far from it! He lay there, purple, a dark, angry purple in the face, and never even looked at them when they came in. Then, as they were standing there, wondering what to do, he had suddenly opened one eye. Oh, what a difference it would have made, what a difference to their memory of him, how much easier to tell people about it, if he had only opened both! But no—one eye only. It glared at them a moment and then… went out.

Related Symbols: The Colonel’s Eye
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

“But—but it seems so weak,” said Josephine, breaking down.

“But why not be weak for once, Jug?” argued Constantia, whispering quite fiercely. “If it is weak.” And her pale stare flew from the locked writing-table—so safe—to the huge glittering wardrobe, and she began to breathe in a queer, panting way.

“Why shouldn’t we be weak for once in our lives, Jug? It’s quite excusable. Let’s be weak—be weak, Jug. It’s much nicer to be weak than to be strong.”

Related Characters: Josephine Pinner (speaker), Constantia Pinner (speaker), The Colonel
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

“Is your dear father still so fond of meringues?” asked Auntie Con gently. She winced faintly as she broke through the shell of hers.

“Well, I don’t quite know, Auntie Con,” said Cyril breezily.

At that they both looked up.

“Don’t know?” almost snapped Josephine. “Don’t know a thing like that about your own father, Cyril?”

“Surely,” said Auntie Con softly.

Cyril tried to laugh it off. “Oh, well,” he said, “it’s such a long time since—” He faltered. He stopped. Their faces were too much for him.

Related Characters: Josephine Pinner (speaker), Constantia Pinner (speaker), Cyril Pinner (speaker), Benny Pinner
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

“I say, Auntie Con, isn’t your clock a bit slow? I’ve got to meet a man at—at Paddington just after five. I’m afraid I shan’t be able to stay very long with grandfather.”

“Oh, he won’t expect you to stay very long!” said Aunt Josephine.

Constantia was still gazing at the clock. She couldn’t make up her mind if it was fast or slow. It was one or the other, she felt almost certain of that. At any rate, it had been.

Related Characters: Josephine Pinner (speaker), Cyril Pinner (speaker), Constantia Pinner , The Colonel
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:

How did one prove things, how could one? Suppose Kate had stood in front of her and deliberately made a face. Mightn’t she very well have been in pain? Wasn’t it impossible, at any rate, to ask Kate if she was making a face at her? If Kate answered “No”—and of course she would say “No”—what a position! How undignified! Then again Constantia suspected, she was almost certain that Kate went to her chest of drawers when she and Josephine were out, not to take things but to spy.

Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

If mother had lived, might they have married? But there had been nobody for them to marry. There had been father’s Anglo-Indian friends before he quarreled with them. But after that she and Constantia never met a single man except clergymen. How did one meet men? Or even if they’d met them, how could they have got to know men well enough to be more than strangers? One read of people having adventures, being followed, and so on. But nobody had ever followed Constantia and her.

Page Number: 257
Explanation and Analysis:

Until the barrel-organ stopped playing Constantia stayed before the Buddha, wondering, but not as usual, not vaguely. This time her wonder was like longing. […] There had been this other life, running out, bringing things home in bags, getting things on approval, discussing them with Jug, and taking them back to get more things on approval, and arranging father’s trays and trying not to annoy father. But it all seemed to have happened in a kind of tunnel. It wasn’t real. […] What did it mean? What was it she was always wanting? What did it all lead to? Now? Now?

Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:
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Constantia Pinner Character Timeline in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

The timeline below shows where the character Constantia Pinner appears in The Daughters of the Late Colonel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Daughters of the Late Colonel
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Constantia and Josephine have had one of the busiest weeks of their lives, and when they... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...of the top-hat on the porter’s head. The last time she laughed in bed with Constantia was years ago, when they would stay awake at night talking. She fights back her... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Constantia wonders if they should have their dressing-gowns dyed black to display their mourning. Josephine finds... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
Constantia says that they will have to mail the papers with the notices tomorrow to get... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Constantia hears what she thinks is a mouse, but Josephine disagrees, declaring that it can’t be... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...about butter consumption. When she takes extra helpings at mealtimes, Josephine gets very red, and Constantia gazes away dreamily. (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...table and storms off. Nurse Andrew notes that there isn’t any jam, and Josephine and Constantia wonder what to do, since they don’t want to bother Kate again. Constantia goes back... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...if the end had been peaceful. Josephine says it had been, but both she and Constantia know that his “eye” hadn’t been peaceful at all. Josephine asks Mr. Farolles to sit,... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...wants to be helpful to the sisters and offers Communion to them as a comfort. Constantia and Josephine are terrified by this idea, since they feel that their drawing-room isn’t suited... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Neither Josephine nor Constantia can believe that their father is never coming back. Josephine felt terrified when his coffin... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine and Constantia decide to try to organize their father’s belongings in his room. While their father was... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
Josephine insists that they have to get it done today and asks Constantia why she keeps staring at the bed. Josephine moves over to open the chest of... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine decides that their father’s watch would be the most apposite gift, though Constantia is surprised that she would give it to a native to deliver. Josephine ensures her... (full context)
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
Josephine offers Cyril a meringue, noting that Cyril’s father was fond of them. Constantia asks if Benny is still fond of meringues, and Cyril replies that he doesn’t know.... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...Paddington just after five. Josephine insists that Cyril see their father before he leaves. Meanwhile, Constantia stares at the clock, wondering whether it is fast or slow. (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
...his knees. The colonel glares at Cyril in the way that he is famous for. Constantia stares at her father, and he asks Cyril what he has to say. Cyril feels... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine decides to send Cyril the watch. She and Constantia are interrupted by Kate, who asks them, “Fried or boiled?” They ask her what she... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine and Constantia retreat into the drawing-room to discuss Kate. Josephine asks Constantia whether they should keep her... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine remarks that she isn’t sure whether to trust Kate or not, and Constantia agrees. It’s difficult to prove things, and she wouldn’t automatically assume that Kate was malicious.... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...but at that moment, a barrel-organ begins to play outside of their apartment. Josephine tells Constantia to run and fetch a six-pence, but they then remember that they no longer have... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
Constantia looks at her favorite Buddha statue on the mantlepiece, one whose smile always gave her... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...crying sounds seem to be within her instead of outside. She wonders whether she and Constantia would have married had their mother lived, but then recalls that there had been nobody... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Constantia remembers the times she came into the drawing-room to lie on the floor with her... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Constantia approaches Josephine and tries to say something about the future, but Josephine interrupts her. They... (full context)