The Daughters of the Late Colonel


Katherine Mansfield

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Josephine Pinner Character Analysis

Also known as “Jug,” Josephine is the older sister in the Pinner family. Though initially tempestuous and disagreeable with Constantia, with whom she frequently quarrels, Josephine begins to feel nervous about their father’s memory after his death—exclaiming to Constantia that “Father will never forgive us” for burying him—and is too anxious to clear out his belongings from his room, prompting Constantia to lead her away from the room, leaving it unorganized. She is pale, blonde, and shorter than Constantia (a quirk that she usually “wouldn’t have owned to for the world”). She is also somewhat harsher and more mercurial than her sister, since she often speaks “sharply” to Constantia despite her own sensitivity about their father’s death (Josephine cried “twenty-three times” while writing her father’s death notice). Though short-tempered with her sister, she is polite with Nurse Andrews, their houseguest, and their maid Kate, since she seems to take a more active role in household administration than Constantia. At the end of the story, Josephine wistfully recollects on their life without a mother or prospects for marriage, but ultimately seems incapable of translating her desire for a fuller life into action.

Josephine Pinner Quotes in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

The The Daughters of the Late Colonel quotes below are all either spoken by Josephine Pinner or refer to Josephine 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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