The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Janet Wulf Character Analysis

Janet is Anna and Willi Rodde’s young daughter, who is born in 1947 and grows up during the course of Anna’s notebooks and Free Women. Unlike Anna, Janet is utterly happy and conventional; she is seemingly unscarred by her mother’s emotional difficulties and tumultuous relationships. Without a father figure, Janet becomes close to Tommy and Ivor, but Anna always wonders what would happen if she remarried—when she was seeing Michael, he and Janet always competed for her attention. Janet becomes Anna’s source of identity and daily motivation—Anna frequently has to summon a happier version of herself so as to not let Janet down, and when Janet insists on going to boarding school (and even wearing the optional uniform, which Anna never would have done), Anna finds herself devastated, with nothing to do and no clear sense of time or purpose. Anna is anxious about Janet’s future—she hopes that men will treat Janet better than she has been treated and that Janet will not turn out emotionally broken like Anna did.

Janet Wulf Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below are all either spoken by Janet Wulf or refer to Janet Wulf. 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:
Free Women: 3 Quotes

She was thinking: If someone cracks up, what does that mean? At what point does a person about to fall to pieces say: I’m cracking up? And if I were to crack up, what form would it take? […] Anna, Anna, I am Anna, she kept repeating; and anyway, I can’t be ill or give way, because of Janet; I could vanish from the world tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter to anyone except to Janet. What then am I, Anna? — something that is necessary to Janet. But that’s terrible, she thought, her fear becoming worse. That’s bad for Janet. So try again: Who am I, Anna? Now she did not think of Janet, but shut her out. Instead she saw her room, long, white, subdued, with the coloured notebooks on the trestle table. She saw herself, Anna, seated on the music-stool, writing, writing; making an entry in one book, then ruling it off, or crossing it out; she saw the pages patterned with different kinds of writing; divided, bracketed, broken — she felt a swaying nausea; and then saw Tommy, not herself, standing with his lips pursed in concentration, turning the pages of her orderly notebooks.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Janet Wulf, Tommy
Related Symbols: Anna’s Notebooks
Page Number: 373
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Golden Notebook LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Golden Notebook PDF

Janet Wulf Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Janet Wulf appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Free Women: 1
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...room to two students (one has since moved out) and leaves one for her daughter Janet, who is in school. She and Michael occupied two more, until he left and she... (full context)
The Notebooks: 1
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...her parents the same way one day. Anna feels helpless thinking about Max; but when Janet was born, “the silly empty marriage” no longer mattered, which she wished Janet could see. (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...Anna is distraught. Max suggests having a baby, and Anna figures, “why not?” They conceive Janet that morning, marry the next week, and separate the next year. (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...each morning in Africa, and then Michael’s “cold irony,” which was also repetitive. Playing with Janet and her blocks, Anna feels nothing. She tells Mrs Marks this is about Michael—but they... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...Mrs Marks talk about her resentment for Michael, who mocks her writing and preference for Janet above him, and who says he will not marry Anna right after insisting that “he... (full context)
Free Women: 2
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Molly calls just after Anna puts Janet to sleep. She asks whether Anna has seen Tommy, who has spent the previous month... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...mess” if she had just one notebook, but Tommy thinks this mess would be fine. Janet calls from upstairs; Tommy brings her water and says goodnight. Meanwhile, Anna feels “an extraordinary... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Tommy apologizes for his attitude, but Anna seems “aggrieved.” Tommy asks about Janet’s father. Anna says she seldom thinks of him—Tommy’s parents are much more involved with one... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Tommy nods and opens the blue notebook, reading an entry in which Anna wrote that Janet was having “a difficult phase.” Tommy remembers once being frightened and anxious in bed, then... (full context)
The Notebooks: 2
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...to go to sleep. She lies down and is “careful not to” fall sleep because Janet is nearly awake. (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...begins having sex with her, and she thinks about the endless tension between him and Janet, whom she visits after he finishes. Molly and Tommy are sleeping; a baby cries through... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...grimy” collar, picks another outfit and imagines Michael’s criticisms. She makes two dinners (one for Janet, one for her and Michael) and runs to the store for sugar, where the workers... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...“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 decided... (full context)
Free Women: 3
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...established itself again,” with Molly crying endlessly and Anna busy caring for her and for Janet, who is terrified. (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...someone to “crack up” and repeats to herself, “Anna, I am Anna,” reminding herself that Janet (and only Janet) needs her. Anna imagines herself writing in her room, then Tommy reading... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...worried about returning late, since she has Ivor, the upstairs boarder, who has recently become Janet’s friend and has started looking after her. Anna thinks he is not “a real man”... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Anna hears Ivor reading Janet a story about a girls’ school and feels that he is mocking “the feminine world.”... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...altogether—and Anna mentions that she has just seen Richard as Ivor finishes his story for Janet upstairs. Marion looks like “an abundant, happy, lively matron.” (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Anna has to bring Janet dinner. When she does, Janet asks whether Anna likes Ivor and Ronnie—Anna says she does... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...rages internally against the notion of property—“my home, my possessions, my rights”—and worries about finding Janet one of the “few real men left” in England. (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...offers money, which she refuses, and says they will talk about it that evening. Surprisingly, Janet is not fazed when Anna mentions the coming evictions, but she does ask to go... (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...forget love, joy, delight.” He is already leaving his wife, and he gets along with Janet immediately. (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
De Silva calls later and asks to have “a friend of mine” sleep in Janet’s room. Anna is confused, then calls him back to clarify, and he confirms that he... (full context)
Free Women: 4
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...daughter, feeling her “usual surge of protective love” but wondering why she seems to think Janet will not end up “incomplete and tormented and fighting” like everyone else. Anna tells Ivor... (full context)
The Notebooks: 4
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Janet is disappointed that Ivor has left, and she wants to go to boarding school—Anna feels... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...had during her time with Mother Sugar seven years before—unfeeling and indifferent to everyone but Janet. When she quit psychoanalysis, she told Mother Sugar, “you’ve taught me to cry, thank you... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Janet comes upstairs from school, at which she chooses to wear the optional, ugly uniform—a decision... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Anna laughs, thinking about how Janet’s departure to boarding school makes her feel “listless and idle.” It also makes her start... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Anna goes to visit Janet—she knows Saul is with Dorothy at the same moment. Janet seems happy, and Anna just... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...her “week of being happy slide away.” She wonders whether she could be happy for Janet, who would need it that summer. (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...to capture her “knowledge of destruction as a force.” Anna worries about war, fears for Janet, falls “limp with exhaustion” and gets into bed, feeling momentarily sane and imagining how Saul... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Anna stands by the window, thinking of Janet, feeling herself further descending into chaos. She tries to “summon up younger, stronger Annas,” the... (full context)
The Golden Notebook
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...he knows it is a cycle, realizing and promising that he would leave anyway when Janet returned. Saul would see Anna and Janet as “two women, two enemies”; what “pure chance”... (full context)
Free Women: 5
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Anna is initially reluctant to let Janet go to boarding school, but the girl is adamant and refuses a “progressive” school; she... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...not feel, that she is mad; she knows that she will return to normal when Janet returns, but since this is only a month away, she turns back to her notebooks.... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...years leafing through huge stacks of newspapers. She says she will return to normal when Janet comes home, and she starts changing the sheets for him—he starts talking about sex and... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Janet returns to find Anna looking for a smaller flat and a job. Molly is getting... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...[Anna] came in.” She finds it “all very odd.” Anna has to go home for Janet, so she and Molly “kissed and separated.” (full context)