The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Paul Blackenhurst Character Analysis

In the black notebook, along with Jimmy and Ted, Paul Blackenhurst is one of the three (ex-)homosexual Oxford-educated airmen who join the socialist group with Anna and Willi Rodde. While Anna is dating Willi, she is secretly in love with Paul, and they elope to the veld on their final night at the Mashopi Hotel. Paul becomes the model for the protagonist of Anna’s first novel, Frontiers of War. He comes from a wealthy and powerful English family; he is charming but heartless and enjoys mocking and insulting people around him (especially those who have lived their whole lives in the Colonies). He spends most of his days arguing about politics with Willi—Paul’s socialism, like his homosexuality, is feigned, and he loves making fun of Willi’s serious commitment to the revolution. Partially out of jest and partially to make a point about British racism, Paul starts a friendship with the Boothbys’ cook Jackson, which eventually leads to a drawn-out feud between the socialists and Mrs Boothby. The day he is supposed to deploy to India, Paul goes to the airfield drunk and, blinded by the sun, walks into an active airplane propeller that dismembers and kills him.

Paul Blackenhurst Quotes in The Golden Notebook

The The Golden Notebook quotes below are all either spoken by Paul Blackenhurst or refer to Paul Blackenhurst. 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: 1 Quotes

I was filled with such a dangerous delicious intoxication that I could have walked straight off the steps into the air, climbing on the strength of my own drunkenness into the stars. And the intoxication, as I knew even then, was the recklessness of infinite possibility, of danger, the secret ugly frightening pulse of war itself, of the death that we all wanted, for each other and for ourselves.

Related Characters: Anna Wulf (speaker), Paul Blackenhurst
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Golden Notebook LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Golden Notebook PDF

Paul Blackenhurst Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Paul Blackenhurst appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 1
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...before—mostly as a means to social protest, of course. The most interesting of them is Paul Blackenhurst , the model for the pilot character in Anna’s novel—he is so charming that people... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...the other hand, “suffer[s] a hell of fear.” He ends up surviving the war, but Paul Blackenhurst dies the day before he is supposed to leave for India—still drunk during a blinding... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...would be wrong, as Ted and Willi never get along, Ted has no connection to Paul Blackenhurst , and Anna is just “the leader’s girl friend.” (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Paul Blackenhurst and Willi hold the group together, with their arguments in the Gainsborough Hotel—which is “really... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
After Paul Blackenhurst stumbles on the Mashopi Hotel at lunchtime during flight drills one day, the group follows... (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
That night, “slightly mad out of sheer exhaustion” after two years of this lifestyle, Paul Blackenhurst recounts a “whimsical fantasy” of black revolt against the colonial government—perhaps the masses would be... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...him, until Maryrose ended up in a loveless marriage with a middle-aged father of three). Paul Blackenhurst makes a joke about incest, and Maryrose says it certainly was, commenting vaguely on her... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
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Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...that “good” is scarcely a specific or literary word, but everyone save Willi, Stanley, and Paul Blackenhurst was clearly good). (full context)
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
That night, Willi explains his views on the area’s leftist groups to George Hounslow, but Paul Blackenhurst and Ted take over, proposing in jest that they start a revolution from the Mashopi... (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
...and Johnnie go off to bed, and George Hounslow asks what they are doing there— Paul Blackenhurst decides that the Boothbys’ cook will be “the obvious key man” in their revolutionary plans,... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...all the socialists but the rigidly mannered Willi join. They stride into the kitchen, where Paul Blackenhurst asks the cook about his family life, to Mrs Boothby’s disdain—she kicks them out. Anna... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...day, Johnnie improvises on the tunes Ted hummed, but Stanley has “no ear at all.” Paul Blackenhurst points out how pitiful Maryrose is, surrounded by men “positively hang-dog with sex frustration” but... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...and she punches him in the face. George comes over, in tears, and complains to Paul Blackenhurst , who casually mentions that “I’m in love with Anna and my heart is breaking.”... (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
...for, she replies. They walk back to the hotel for lunch, and Anna eats by Paul Blackenhurst . (full context)
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Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
They dance until about five that night— Paul Blackenhurst with Anna, Willi with Maryrose (on whom George Hounslow was also fixated), and Jimmy, somehow... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
On this last weekend, Mrs Boothby kicks Anna and Paul Blackenhurst out of the kitchen (being there is “against the rules”), where they have been chatting... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...the “romantic, adolescent relationships” between almost every other pair in the group. June Boothby brings Paul Blackenhurst and Anna to the kitchen to help with that evening’s dinner, and of course Paul... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Paul Blackenhurst meets Jackson after his shift ends, while George Hounslow looks at “the father of my... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...staying near the hotel. Jimmy also disgusted Mrs Boothby the previous weekend by drunkenly kissing Paul Blackenhurst . This final weekend, he and George drink and dance; Mrs Boothby walks in and... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Around midnight, Paul Blackenhurst mentions that Jimmy has not returned and goes looking for him along with Anna and... (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
George Hounslow stumbles away, and Anna and Paul Blackenhurst take Jimmy to bed before Paul tries bringing Anna to bed herself, since he knows... (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
...she has no regrets about firing Jackson. The socialists leave and never return. Soon thereafter, Paul Blackenhurst dies and Jimmy is deployed to Germany; Ted purposefully fails his exams to be with... (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...Mashopi Hotel. Mrs Boothby brings a .22 rifle to breakfast, asking if anyone can shoot—which Paul Blackenhurst can—because Mr Boothby wants pigeon pie. She directs Paul to a nearby marsh, and he... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...white butterflies” and a cloud of other insects mating furiously, “the very emblem of stupidity.” Paul Blackenhurst suggests that the butterflies are also “pursuing vile sex”; Paul and Jimmy crouch down to... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...heat, which suggests that it must have been October or November, a few months before Paul Blackenhurst died the morning after eloping with Anna down this same path in the veld. They... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
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Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Two more pigeons arrive; Paul Blackenhurst shoots them and Jimmy reluctantly retrieves them. Then one more—Paul splatters Jimmy’s arm with blood... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...some farmworkers pass with averted eyes and an obvious fear of the rifle-carrying white people. Paul Blackenhurst goes into a tongue-in-cheek speech about how the colony has enough resources for its million... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Paul Blackenhurst insists on shooting one more bird, describing the “toothsome pie” that they might all share... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
...in the ant-eater pit, where it fights with the other insect; another bird lands, and Paul Blackenhurst shoots it, and another, which does not die—but he wrings its neck, then digs out... (full context)
The Notebooks: 4
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
...“try and fit themselves into Anna’s body.” First are the people from the Mashopi Hotel— Paul Blackenhurst , dead, invades her, and Anna struggles to inhabit her body as she watches Paul’s... (full context)