The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Comrade John Butte Character Analysis

A prominent leader in the British Communist Party and committed defender of the Soviet Union. Although he used to be an energetic and compassionate organizer, he has since become jaded and authoritarian, invariably ignoring Anna’s recommendations that the Party avoid publishing mediocre books. His authoritarianism demonstrates the pitfalls of long-term political commitments that put dogma over independent critical thought.

Comrade John Butte Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below are all either spoken by Comrade John Butte or refer to Comrade John Butte. 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:
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of The Golden Notebook published in 1962.
The Notebooks: 2 Quotes

15th September, 1954

A normal day. During the course of a discussion with John Butte and Jack I decided to leave the Party. I must now be careful not to start hating the Party in the way we do hate stages of our life we have outgrown. Noted signs of it already: moments of disliking Jack which were quite irrational. Janet as usual, no problems. Molly worried, I think with reason, over Tommy. She has a hunch he will marry his new girl. Well, her hunches usually come off. I realized that Michael had finally decided to break it off. I must pull myself together.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Janet Wulf, Molly Jacobs, Tommy, Michael, Jack, Comrade John Butte
Page Number: 352
Explanation and Analysis:
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Comrade John Butte Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Comrade John Butte appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 1
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...long weekend with “Ted’s new protégé, Stanley Lett” and his friend, a jazz pianist named Johnnie, to find the hotel packed, with a full calendar of social events. They are greeted... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...feeling deeply lonely, as the only remaining true believer in socialism. George decides to engage Johnnie, who, as usual, barely speaks, and Stanley, who refuses George’s offer of wine and insists... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Stanley and Johnnie go off to bed, and George Hounslow asks what they are doing there—Paul Blackenhurst decides... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
They go into the beautiful “big room,” where Johnnie is busy playing jazz piano and Stanley lingers around him—Stanley only likes Johnnie because he... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...it can be called a crisis, occurred” with their final visit to Mashopi. Stanley and Johnnie have split from the group, passing time with Mrs Lattimer—who enjoys “publicly playing the mother-and-son... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...purposefully fails his exams to be with Stanley, who “told him he was a fool.” Johnnie keeps playing at parties; George manages to find Jackson and send him money, supposedly on... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...with people who have left the Party. Six months later, on August 19, 1951: Comrade John defends the Soviet Union at lunch, but Anna is forced to defend it at dinner... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...and the Party declared him “a capitalist spy.” Anna meets him, and she and Comrade John go to Comrade Bill, who does nothing and insists that “anyone could be an agent... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
At dinner, Comrade John says people stay in the Party because they cannot bear to abandon their “ideals for... (full context)
The Notebooks: 2
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Anna will be seeing Comrade John, or as she ironically calls him, “Comrade Butte.” The previous week, after an argument, they... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...herself in the bathroom, hoping “to defeat the sour musty smell,” before heading up to John’s office. She remembers what Jack has told her about John’s energy and brilliance in the... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
It is clear that Comrade John has already decided to publish the two books—Anna notes that she thinks highly of neither... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Comrade John asks about the other book, and realizing that the Party’s actual operations in no way... (full context)