The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by

Ann Shaffer

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Elizabeth McKenna Character Analysis

Elizabeth was a witty, loyal, and quick-thinking young woman who, though not a Guernsey local, had a long history on the island. Her mother was in Lord Ambrose's service, and Lord Ambrose treated Elizabeth like a daughter and later sent her to the Slade School of Art. Because Lord Ambrose summered on Guernsey, he brought Elizabeth with him every year as a child. During those summers, Elizabeth met Jane and the girls got into all sorts of mischief. While some, like Amelia and Eben, found this charming, others, like Adelaide, thought Elizabeth was a pompous disgrace. At the start of the war, Lord Ambrose sent Elizabeth to close up his house on Guernsey. Elizabeth ended up staying on the island, where she became a nurse and volunteered to help evacuate Guernsey's children. Elizabeth loved playing with children and was able to distract them from the fact that they were leaving their parents. During the occupation she fell in love with Christian Hellman, a German soldier. She gave birth to Kit not long after Christian was sent away from Guernsey and died at sea. Elizabeth also invented the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was just one of several instances in which Elizabeth's quick thinking saved her friends from persecution. She also conceived of John Booker's impersonation of Lord Tobias and painted a portrait to complete the effect. Because of this, the entire island and the Society especially loved Elizabeth dearly. When Kit was about a year old, Elizabeth was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp for providing medical attention to a Todt worker, Lud Jaruzki. There, she befriended Remy and was instrumental in lifting Remy's spirits. Elizabeth was executed at the camp after defending a woman from a guard who was beating her for menstruating. Remy writes the Society to share this, as she wants Kit especially to know how loyal, brave, and kind her mother was. Juliet feels as though Elizabeth is a dear friend, though they've never met, and decides to use Elizabeth's story to frame her book about the German occupation of Guernsey.

Elizabeth McKenna Quotes in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society quotes below are all either spoken by Elizabeth McKenna or refer to Elizabeth McKenna. 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:
Literature and Connection Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dial edition of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society published in 2008.
Part 1: 12 Mar, 1946 Quotes

Though I had little hope of success, I knew it was my duty to warn her of the fate that awaited her. I told her she would be cast out of decent society, but she did not heed me. In fact, she laughed. I bore it. Then she told me to get out of her house.

Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

The principal work of the baby's maintenance was undertaken by Amelia Maugery, with other Society members taking her out—like a library book—for several weeks at a time.

They all dandled the baby, and now that the child can walk, she goes everywhere with one or another of them—holding hands or riding on their shoulders. Such are their standards!

Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1: 22 Apr, 1946 Quotes

The States didn't want the parents to come into the school itself—too crowded and too sad. Better to say good-byes outside. One child crying might set them all off.

So it was strangers who tied up shoelaces, wiped noses, put a nametag around each child's neck. We did up buttons and played games with them until the buses could come.

Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: 12 Jun, 1946 Quotes

I also know that she cherished you as her family, and she felt gratitude and peace that her daughter, Kit, was in your care. Therefore, I write so you and the child will know of her and the strength she showed to us in the camp.

Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: 16 Jun, 1946 Quotes

It's odd, I suppose, to mourn so for someone you've never met. But I do.

Related Characters: Juliet Ashton (speaker), Elizabeth McKenna, Sidney Stark
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: 17 Jul, 1946 Quotes

Maybe every mother looks at her baby that way—with that intense focus—but Elizabeth put it on paper. There was one shaky drawing of a wizened little Kit, made the day after she was born, according to Amelia.

Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: 19 Jul, 1946 Quotes

Why, there'd be soldiers riding guard in the back of potato lorries going to the army's mess hall—children would follow them, hoping potatoes would fall off into the street. Soldiers would look straight ahead, grim-like, and then flick potatoes off the pile—on purpose.

Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: 7 Sep, 1946 Quotes

She was showing me her treasures, Sophie—her eyes did not leave my face once. We were both so solemn, and I, for once, didn't start crying; I just held out my arms. She climbed right into them, and under the covers with me—and went sound asleep. Not me! I couldn't. I was too happy planning the rest of our lives.

Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
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Elizabeth McKenna Character Timeline in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The timeline below shows where the character Elizabeth McKenna appears in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One, 31st January, 1946
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Family, Parenting, and Legitimacy Theme Icon
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...an hour after it began, but they decided to go home anyway. Dawsey walked with Elizabeth McKenna and John Booker. Drunk, John started singing and attracted the attention of German officers.... (full context)
Part One, 17th-18th February, 1946
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...Dawsey left off. Amelia had no idea what transpired after the roast pig feast until Elizabeth arrived the next morning to see how many books Amelia owned. Elizabeth suggested that they... (full context)
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Elizabeth, Dawsey, and the other dinner guests were forced to pay fines and submit a membership... (full context)
Part One, 19th February, 1946
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...a goat, and a parrot. She sells vegetables and elixirs at market every week, and Elizabeth's four-year-old daughter, Kit, helps stir the elixirs. Isola describes herself as ugly and too tall.... (full context)
Part One, 20th February, 1946
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...and is off to the library to research. Juliet also mentions that she's heard that Elizabeth is still missing in France and offers hope that she'll come home soon. She includes... (full context)
Part One, 1st March, 1946
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...to write about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for the Times, as Elizabeth isn't even an Islander: she's a "jumped-up servant" of Sir Ambrose Ivers, a London portrait... (full context)
Part One, 3rd March, 1946
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...Guernsey children who were evacuated. Then, she asks how Amelia hid the pig and praises Elizabeth's bravery and quick thinking. Juliet says she hopes Elizabeth will come home soon, and mentions... (full context)
Part One, 10th March, 1946
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The feast was magnificent, and Eben says that Elizabeth was brave. He says that Elizabeth and Jane became friends when they were girls. In... (full context)
Part One, 12th March, 1946
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...feels she must tell the whole truth: the Society is raising the "bastard" child of Elizabeth and her German lover, Captain Christian Hellman. Adelaide assures Juliet she wouldn't call Elizabeth a... (full context)
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...knowing these things, as being proud wouldn't be Christian. However, a year after Kit's birth, Elizabeth sheltered an escaped prisoner and was sent to a prison on the continent. Amelia took... (full context)
Part One, 27th March, 1946
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...the Germans bombed it. He doesn't remember much of the night that he, Dawsey, and Elizabeth were stopped after the pig roast, as he was drunk. Booker says that Seneca's book... (full context)
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Booker worked his way through the cellar uninterrupted until September, when Elizabeth and Amelia warned him that the Germans wanted to register all Jews on the island.... (full context)
Part One, 2nd April, 1946
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...Christian often helped Dawsey carry water and they'd talk. Dawsey soon discovered that Christian and Elizabeth knew each other. In early 1942, the Germans sent Christian to work in a hospital,... (full context)
Part One, 22nd April, 1946
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...dropped off at the school so that kids wouldn't cry saying goodbye on the pier. Elizabeth and Eben walked Eli to the school and Elizabeth helped get the children ready. On... (full context)
Part One, 24th April, 1946
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Isola is happy to tell Juliet about Elizabeth slapping Adelaide. The U.S. wanted to minimize the stress and tears, so they had volunteers... (full context)
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The shock of seeing Elizabeth slap Adelaide seemed to snap the kids out of their fear and sadness. Isola says... (full context)
Part One, 26th April, 1946
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...She's currently whispering to herself under the table. Dawsey explains that Kit doesn't look like Elizabeth, but she's just as strong-willed as Elizabeth. Elizabeth insisted that Dawsey learn about babies and... (full context)
Part One, 13th May, 1946
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...she knows to send Juliet letters about the occupation. They've decided to let Juliet rent Elizabeth's cottage. Mr. Dilwyn had already planned to rent the property to provide income for Kit.... (full context)
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...a foreign land, as the Society is the only family Kit knows. Amelia explains that Elizabeth kept Kit's paternity a secret from the authorities because she feared they'd take Kit, though... (full context)
Part One, 14th May, 1946
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...write about their experiences. Then, Isola recounts seeing the invading Germans for the first time. Elizabeth was with Isola and she suggested they go stare at the Germans. When they got... (full context)
Part One, 15th May, 1946
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...shaved and the tops of the scabs cut off. Fortunately for Sally, her nurse was Elizabeth, who was kind and funny. Elizabeth told Sally the truth that the treatment was going... (full context)
Part One, 16th May, 1946
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...been trying to keep Isola alive, as Isola has been up on the roof of Elizabeth's cottage looking for loose tiles. (full context)
Part Two, 27th May, 1946
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Juliet tells Sidney about Elizabeth's cottage. It's large with lots of windows, which means that Juliet is often distracted watching... (full context)
Part Two, 6th June, 1946
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Juliet says that Amelia recently told her a story about Elizabeth and her son, Ian. When Ian was about to go to school in England, he... (full context)
Part Two, 12th June, 1946
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...receives a letter. The writer is Remy, a Frenchwoman, and she writes to say that Elizabeth was executed at the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in March of 1945. Remy says that Elizabeth... (full context)
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Remy says that they lived in a block with almost 400 women. Elizabeth would talk about the Society and Guernsey, and her stories made the filthy bunks almost... (full context)
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...legs. The overseers took the blood as an excuse to beat the women. One evening, Elizabeth rushed to help a woman being beaten, stole the guard's rod, and hit the guard.... (full context)
Part Two, 16th June, 1946
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Amelia writes to Remy and thanks her for her letter and the news of Elizabeth. She asks if she and Dawsey might come to visit. Juliet also writes to Sidney... (full context)
Part Two, 17th June, 1946
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...it's true that she doesn't want him to visit, but it has to do with Elizabeth's death, not him. Juliet writes that she knows he's probably wondering why Elizabeth's death has... (full context)
Part Two, 28th June, 1946
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...trip to France and Remy might yet come to stay with her. Kit knows that Elizabeth is dead, and Juliet has been careful to not press or treat her differently. Juliet... (full context)
Part Two, 12th July, 1946
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...her book needs a single voice to ground it. He believes that voice should be Elizabeth McKenna's. Everyone spoke about her at some point and she's responsible for saving so many... (full context)
Part Two, 15th July, 1946
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Juliet replies to Sidney and says that he's absolutely right; Elizabeth's voice is perfect. She shares that Remy will come to Guernsey soon and stay with... (full context)
Part Two, 17th July, 1946
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Juliet tells Sidney that she hasn't found a diary, but Elizabeth did draw until she ran out of supplies. Most of the drawings are of Kit... (full context)
Part Two, 19th July, 1946
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Juliet tells Sidney that now that she's looking for them, she's finding stories of Elizabeth everywhere. Earlier, she and Kit walked to the churchyard. The groundskeeper, Sam Withers, was around... (full context)
Part Two, 27th July, 1946
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Juliet tells Sidney about her discovery that Elizabeth had an accomplice in sheltering a Todt worker. The man's name is Peter Sawyer. Juliet... (full context)
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...the lice and maggots. He couldn't ask for help; helping Todt workers was a crime. Elizabeth was Peter's nurse and came the next day. She immediately set to work nursing Lud.... (full context)
Part Two, 1st August, 1946
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...Remy, and Kit built a sandcastle. As Kit played in the waves, Remy suggested that Elizabeth must've been like Kit once. Remy spoke about Elizabeth's plan to come home. They all... (full context)
Part Two, 6th and 7th August, 1946
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...a generation of the subject's life, especially given what she's been able to learn about Elizabeth from people who knew her. Juliet feels as though Elizabeth is a true friend. (full context)
Part Two, 9th August, 1946
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...to the Germans in exchange for favors, and he's the one who reported Peter and Elizabeth. After he disclosed what he'd done, Dawsey beat him in the pub. Dawsey spent a... (full context)
Part Two, 22nd August, 1946
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Juliet confides that she's been worried about Kit since she learned of Elizabeth's death. She's decided to speak to Mr. Dilwyn, Kit's legal guardian, about possibly fostering or... (full context)
Part Two, 29th August, 1946
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...with Eben before accepting. He laughed and said the sisters were safe and often hosted Elizabeth and Jane. The sisters are identical, 80-year-old twins, and they're very charming. As soon as... (full context)
Part Two, 7th September, 1946
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...offered Juliet her box of treasures. The box contained a baby pillow, a photo of Elizabeth, a handkerchief, a signet ring, and a book of Rilke's poetry that Christian gave to... (full context)