The Daughters of the Late Colonel

by

Katherine Mansfield

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The Colonel is the patriarch of the Pinner family and father to Constantia, Josephine, and Benny. Tyrannical, imposing, and cruel, the colonel retired from work as a colonial administrator in Ceylon and lived out his final years with his adult daughters. Since his wife died when his children were young, it is suggested that the colonel raised his children mostly on his own and that he treated them with varying degrees of severity—especially Josephine and Constantia, who were often subject to his demands (for errands and for silence in the apartment) and objects of his criticism (about their spending habits especially). In his old age, the colonel became senile and cranky around his daughters and his grandson, Cyril, and he does not seek forgiveness for his actions during his last moments alive—instead glaring at his daughters with one eye open. Though respected in the community (by Mr. Farolles and Nurse Andrews especially), the colonel’s behavior has torn his family apart, since his son and grandson have virtually abandoned their female relatives.

The Colonel Quotes in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

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

“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:

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:
Get the entire The Daughters of the Late Colonel LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Daughters of the Late Colonel PDF

The Colonel Character Timeline in The Daughters of the Late Colonel

The timeline below shows where the character The Colonel 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
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
...Nurse Andrews will be gone soon, and they realize that she had been kind to their father during his final days—though she had been reluctant to leave his bedside, which they feel... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Mr. Farolles, a clergyman and a friend of the family, arrives the day their father dies and asks if the end had been peaceful. Josephine says it had been, but... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...to wait. Josephine asks Mr. Farolles to arrange a simple funeral, and Constantia thinks that their father ’s funeral should be appropriate for his position. Mr. Farolles promises to enlist the help... (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 was lowered at the cemetery,... (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 alive, they never disturbed him in... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
...open the chest of drawers but retreats quickly, feeling suddenly as if she has seen her father in the top drawer, hidden away as if preparing to attack. Josephine tells Constantia that... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Once out of their father ’s room, the sisters sit down and look at each other. They decide to ask... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
...the costume of a colonial administrator. His right hand would shake up and down, like their father ’s did when he was impatient. Benny’s wife Hilda, unknown to the sisters, sat behind... (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... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
Josephine asks Cyril to come and see his grandfather . Cyril remarks that he thinks their clock is a bit slow and that he... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Family, Instability, and Fragmentation Theme Icon
Cyril and his aunts enter Grandfather Pinner ’s room, where he sits in front of a fire with his walking stick and... (full context)
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...dependent on her as they used to be; they no longer need a cook for their father . Josephine suggests that she and Constantia could manage their own food, either by making... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...remember that they no longer have to stop the organ-grinder, whose music used to bother their father (who would “bellow” at them to get their attention). Their father’s walking stick will never... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
...married had their mother lived, but then recalls that there had been nobody to marry. Her father fell out with his Anglo-Indian friends, and she and Constantia never met a single man... (full context)
Patriarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Ambivalence and Dependency Theme Icon
...songs she made up. Constantia reflects on the life she has spent running errands for her father and seeking his approval, but this life seems unreal—as if it occurred in a “kind... (full context)