The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Jack Character Analysis

In the red notebook, Jack is a historian of the Soviet communist movement and Anna’s closest confidant at the British Communist Party, who often helps mediate her meetings with Comrade John Butte. Anna and Jack agree that their organization has lost sight of its purpose and become a Stalinist propaganda machine, and they also have fascinating conversations about their problems with the Party and the Soviet Union. Unlike Anna, Jack has spent so much of his life intertwined in the Party that he feels he cannot leave, and after she quits, they appear to drift apart. Torn between his beliefs and his organizational commitment, Jack represents the tragedy of dedicated political activism that is also the tragedy of politics: the conflict of individual values with the collective interest (the values of a party versus the interests of society, but also the values of an individual versus the values of a party). A version of Jack also appears in Anna’s novel The Shadow of the Third in the yellow notebook, as an editor at Ella’s magazine who collaborates on a series of articles with her, and later sleeps with her before pontificating about his conflicting feelings for his wife.

Jack Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below are all either spoken by Jack or refer to Jack. 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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The Golden Notebook PDF

Jack Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Jack appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 2
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...have shot one another if they had been in Russia; after John left, Anna and Jack discussed the changes in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death—Jack was the only person with... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...“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 past; she laments how 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
...“captive critic,” as John’s “youthful self, sitting opposite him, which he has to defeat.” When Jack evokes a specific criticism from her, John bangs his fist and yells, “Publish and be... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...and realizing that the Party’s actual operations in no way match her interesting conversations with Jack, Anna decides that she has to quit. She affirms that “both books will be published”... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...public mirror to her feelings about art; despite her hopes for communal art, she and Jack recently realized that their conversations are all about “the individual conscience.” (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
The bulk of Anna’s work is what Jack jokingly calls “welfare work.” Before she begins work, she goes downstairs and washes, wondering whether... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...She doubts that her “welfare work” has made any real difference and decides to visit Jack. (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Jack is a historian of the Party in the Soviet Union—his writings are too truthful to... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...she “must now be careful not to start hating” it, as she started to with Jack. Janet is “as usual”; Molly is distraught over Tommy; Anna understands “that Michael had finally... (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Ella and one of the magazine’s subeditors, Jack, are coming up with articles about women’s emotional problems. They pick both official and satirical... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Ella sleeps with Jack, who is “the efficient type of lover.” She feels tearful and blames her own double... (full context)