The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Molly Jacobs Character Analysis

Molly is Anna’s closest (and perhaps only) friend, whom she sees as a sister or even, emotionally and psychologically speaking, lesbian partner. Whereas Anna is shy, small, and artistically talented, Molly is boisterous, imposing, emotionally expressive, and “worldly-wise,” comfortable in any room and skilled at dressing to create an impression. Still, many people see the two women as “interchangeable” because they are both unmarried. Molly is a relatively unsuccessful actress and, in the 1930s, was briefly married to Richard Portmain, whom she now openly disdains for his elitism and obsession with money and status, even though he still frequently asks her for advice about his current wife Marion and his and Molly’s son, Tommy. Molly and Anna talk frequently even after Anna moves out of Molly’s apartment, and she often punctuates their gossip by proclaiming, “it’s all very odd, isn’t it Anna?” Molly spent much of the 1950s as an enthusiastic communist organizer, holding meetings at her house and often lacking the time or energy to have serious conversations with Anna during her busier periods. Nevertheless, she tends to alternate between parroting communist platitudes and declaring her frustration with the Party. She also introduces Anna to many of her friends, including De Silva and Saul Green. At the beginning of Free Women, she has just returned from a year traveling Europe and, at the story’s end, she marries a “progressive businessman.” But she plays a much less central role in Anna’s notebooks, and in both narratives Anna increasingly distances herself from Molly as she builds a relationship with Saul Green or Milt—although they ultimately returns to their previous intimacy at the end of Free Women.

Molly Jacobs Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below are all either spoken by Molly Jacobs or refer to Molly Jacobs. 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.
Free Women: 1 Quotes

“The point is,” said Anna, as her friend came back from the telephone on the landing, “the point is, that as far as I can see, everything’s cracking up.”

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Molly Jacobs
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Anna laughed. “Men. Women. Bound. Free. Good. Bad. Yes. No. Capitalism. Socialism. Sex. Love …”

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Molly Jacobs
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Free Women: 2 Quotes

“It seems to me like this. It’s not a terrible thing — I mean, it may be terrible, but it’s not damaging, it’s not poisoning, to do without something one wants. It’s not bad to say: My work is not what I really want, I’m capable of doing something bigger. Or I’m a person who needs love, and I’m doing without it. What’s terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you’re capable of better. It would be very bad if I said, out of guilt or something: I loved Janet’s father, when I know quite well I didn’t. Or for your mother to say: I loved Richard. Or I’m doing work I love …”

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Molly Jacobs, Tommy, Richard Portmain, Willi Rodde , Max Wulf
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
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

“Isn’t it odd, Anna? He’s been hovering between life and death. Now he’s going to live. It seems impossible he shouldn’t. But if he had died, then I suppose we’d have felt that was inevitable too?”

Related Characters: Molly Jacobs (speaker), Anna Wulf, Tommy
Page Number: 355
Explanation and Analysis:
The Golden Notebook Quotes

“Write down: The two women were alone in the London flat.” […] “On a dry hillside in Algeria, the soldier watched the moonlight glinting on his rifle.”

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Saul Green (speaker), Molly Jacobs
Page Number: 610
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Golden Notebook LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Golden Notebook PDF

Molly Jacobs Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Molly Jacobs 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
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
“The two women were alone in the London flat,” and Anna tells Molly that “everything’s cracking up.” Molly reports that Richard is about to visit, probably to chat... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Molly suggests that, despite their differences, people tend to see them as the same because they... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...go back to Mrs Marks, with “all that damned art all over the place,” but Molly wonders if this might explain why Anna had not written anything at all during Molly’s... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Both the children of 1920s intellectuals, Richard and Molly had been married for a few months, years ago, and had one son, Tommy. Richard... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Molly is “tallish” and “big-boned,” but looks “slight, and even boyish” because of her clever fashion... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Out of the first-floor window, Anna and Molly watch the milkman unload his bottles with his son, who has recently won a scholarship,... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Richard comes to the door; Molly tosses down the key and he comes in, overdressed in sports clothes as always (even... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Molly and Richard still argue about Tommy—especially after she left him at home for a year... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Anna did get Molly and Richard to agree that he should give Tommy a job in “one of your... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Richard calls Anna and Molly “extraordinarily naïve” and they joke about his business—Anna has learned he is much more of... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Molly asks about Marion—Anna reveals that Marion, too, had visited her, but Richard has nothing to... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...away to some home or something,” because her drinking was affecting the children. He implores Molly to talk to Marion, to do “anything” to “stop her drinking,” and Molly wonders why... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...should after bringing him up “to believe in certain things.” He “wouldn’t mind being like” Molly and Anna, even though they are often “in such a mess.” At least they are... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
“It seems a lot of things have been going on while I was away,” starts Molly. Anna explains that she is not having a mere “artistic problem,” but that her notebooks... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Molly asks about the last year, which Anna admits was full of “complicated living,” including a... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...white kitchen, “crammed with order” and covered in steam from the roast in the oven. Molly remarks that England is “worse than usual,” so utterly boring, that she wants to leave... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...complaining about Anna’s criticism of the Soviets, on three separate occasions. Many Party members have quit—Molly scarcely cares about politics anymore, either. They chat briefly about the Americans in London, Tom... (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
Molly also asks about Anna herself—she had a visit from Michael, with whom she had broken... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...walks back to her five-room flat, where Michael persuaded her to live (instead of with Molly). She rents a room to two students (one has since moved out) and leaves one... (full context)
The Notebooks: 1
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Molly has told Anna about her reservations with the British Communist Party, which she listed for... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...and suspicion that the most dedicated Party members employ to identify themselves. Back at home, Molly assures that “I joined in spite of myself, too”—she was always friends with communists but... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...its own McCarthyism. She cannot explain why she defends the Rosenbergs but not Michael’s friends. Molly cries, too, which reminds Anna of Maryrose crying when she realized that the beautiful revolution... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...a body of people […] waiting to reverse the present process back to real socialism.” Molly is too busy to discuss—her personality, like Anna’s, is split between a “dry, wise, ironical... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
“Stalin died today,” leaving Anna and Molly upset but feeling that they should be pleased. They suggest that Stalin might not have... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
January 7, 1950: Tommy turns 17. He argues with Molly, which has been happening frequently since his first visit to his father, Richard, after which... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...with the Party, she swings from “fear and hatred” to “desperate clinging,” like with Janet, Molly, and Michael. (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,... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...mother would be “upset because of all those madness [psychology] books” he has been reading. Molly does not pick up Anna’s phone call; Tommy compares Anna’s bed to a coffin and... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...phase.” Tommy remembers once being frightened and anxious in bed, then walking downstairs to see Molly and Anna, only to hear Molly say he was “in a difficult phase.” This made... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
...and says she is expecting a visitor—Tommy leaves, thanking her for the conversation. Anna calls Molly and explains that Tommy “frightens” her. Marion is coming to see her, and they need... (full context)
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
The phone rings: it is Molly. Tommy has shot himself in his room, and he is about to die. A policeman... (full context)
The Notebooks: 2
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...the red notebook, in an entry dated August 28, 1954, Anna writes that she and Molly want to learn about Quemoy but can find little information. Molly discovers that the Party... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...thinks about the endless tension between him and Janet, whom she visits after he finishes. Molly and Tommy are sleeping; a baby cries through the wall, and Janet asks why Anna... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...the store for sugar, where the workers call her pet names like “love and duck.” Molly, Tommy, and Janet have since come home; Molly tells Janet a story, and Janet takes... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Molly returns from the theater and asks if Michael is coming—Anna promises that he is, but... (full context)
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...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 to break it off”... (full context)
Free Women: 3
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
After she and Anna spend a week with Tommy in the hospital, Molly remarks that it is “odd” that they now accept it as inevitable that he will... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...Tommy’s suicide attempt. When he awakens, he realizes he is blind and goes silent after Molly confirms it—afterward, Richard scolds her for telling Tommy the truth. She suggests that Tommy had... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Molly returns to work, and Anna stops visiting Tommy, who prefers being alone and to whom... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
However, both Anna and Molly feel, and are afraid to mention, “something else” beneath their panic: Anna and Molly’s “years’... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Molly calls Anna to report that Marion has started visiting Tommy every day, for hours. She... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...on some holiday” with Tommy, while he introduces his children to his latest mistress, Jean. Molly would not mind, Anna insisted, but Tommy might—he is keeping Molly “as his prisoner.” Enraged,... (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...and innocent before.” Some are eager to restart the whole cycle of rethinking and reorganizing. Molly calls to say that Tommy has become one of these eager reformists; he reminds Molly... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Anna remembers going to a political meeting at Molly’s house a few weeks before. A Jewish intellectual, Comrade Harry, managed to go to the... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
While the dream has not repeated, Anna has rejected a man she met at Molly’s house, for she is afraid of failing again. After another black line on the page,... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...sees him as “incarnate, the principle of joy-in-giving-pain.” He appears in her nightmares, and soon Molly calls to inform her that he left his wife and children well before moving to... (full context)
Free Women: 4
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...irritated that Ronnie has seemingly moved back into the flat without permission, Anna waits for Molly and Richard to come over. They are coming to discuss Marion, who has already begun... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...to take him down—she hung up on him and soon picked up a call from Molly, who complained about Marion and Tommy dominating the house and the next generation’s apparent inability... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...could really understand me, who’d be kind to me.” Anna asks how he was treating Molly and sees “the blood come up in his face.” Tommy clearly wants Anna to leave,... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
When Molly and Richard finally come to Anna’s flat, they are not arguing but “almost like friends.”... (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
...about Janet’s character; the girl is as normal as one can be, except for Anna, Molly, and Michael’s influence. By going to boarding school, she means to say that she wants... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Molly calls to propose a tenant, who is a blacklisted American—Anna worries that he would be... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Saul Green, the American, delays his arrival because he is in the countryside—Molly calls to tell Anna that, actually, a friend is “showing him Soho,” and that Tommy... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...his oversized clothing and paranoid eyes. They have an exceedingly awkward conversation until Anna mentions Molly, and he immediately changes, proving “extraordinarily acute about her character and situation,” like no man... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...the ‘game,’” hoping to defeat her depression through self-discipline. She might even get a job. Molly calls to tell Anna “that Jane Bond has ‘taken a fall over’ Mr Green,” a... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...a stiff neck and difficulty breathing, feeling a knot in her lower stomach. She calls Molly, who consults a book and confirms that Anna is “suffering from an anxiety state,” but... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...realizes she is “going to fall in love with Saul Green.” She has dinner with Molly and talks about Saul but feels increasingly possessive over him. At home, Anna and Saul... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...avail (*11), she fails “the game” and hears Saul traipse around the house. She calls Molly, who mentions that Jane Bond is still in love with Saul—Anna realizes his “walk” last... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Anna looks into the blue notebook but cannot write, so she calls Molly. However, Anna realizes she “could not talk to her,” with her sullenness fighting Molly’s enthusiastic... (full context)
The Golden Notebook
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...Mashopi, then Paul Tanner and Ella, then Michael and Anna, Ella and Julia, Anna and Molly. He laughs when it says, “directed by Anna Wulf,” over Anna’s pleas that the films... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Anna calls Molly, but recites their coming conversation to Saul while she waits for Molly to pick up:... (full context)
Free Women: 5
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...world of people, and “everything seemed to have changed.” Marion and Tommy are in Sicily, Molly is alone in her house, too, and has started taking care of Richard’s sons, while... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
A friend of Molly’s, Milt, calls to see Anna’s spare room but reschedules for the next day, giving an... (full context)
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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 married to “what we used to refer to as a progressive businessman,” a... (full context)
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Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Anna admits her affair with Milt, the American, to Molly and explains that she is planning to start counseling at a “marriage welfare center—half-official, half-private.”... (full context)