The Secret Agent

by

Joseph Conrad

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Winnie’s Mother Character Analysis

Winnie and Stevie’s widowed mother lives with the Verlocs. She is stout and unwell, immobilized by swollen legs. Winnie’s mother doesn’t really understand what Winnie sees in Verloc, but she accepts their marriage as beneficial, since Verloc is a good provider for her, Winnie, and Stevie. However, in order to better provide for Stevie’s future, she moves into an almshouse for innkeepers’ widows so that the Verlocs won’t have to support both her and Stevie—and so that Stevie will have a stronger claim on others’ support as he grows older.

Winnie’s Mother Quotes in The Secret Agent

The The Secret Agent quotes below are all either spoken by Winnie’s Mother or refer to Winnie’s Mother. 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:
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Secret Agent published in 1907.
Chapter 8 Quotes

On the box, Stevie shut his vacant mouth first, in order to ejaculate earnestly: "Don't."

The driver, holding high the reins twisted around the hook, took no notice. Perhaps he had not heard. Stevie's breast heaved. […]

"You mustn’t," stammered out Stevie violently. "It hurts."

"Mustn't whip," queried the other in a thoughtful whisper, and immediately whipped. He did this, not because his soul was cruel and his heart evil, but because he had to earn his fare. […] But on the bridge there was a commotion. Stevie suddenly proceeded to get down from the box.

Related Characters: Stevie (speaker), Cab Driver (speaker), Mrs. Winnie Verloc, Winnie’s Mother, Mr. Adolf Verloc
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

The tears of that large female in a dark, dusty wig, and ancient silk dress festooned with dingy white cotton lace, were the tears of genuine distress. She had wept because she was heroic and unscrupulous and full of love for both her children. Girls frequently get sacrificed to the welfare of the boys. In this case she was sacrificing Winnie. By the suppression of truth she was slandering her. Of course, Winnie was independent, and need not care for the opinion of people that she would never see and who would never see her; whereas poor Stevie had nothing in the world he could call his own except his mother's heroism and unscrupulousness.

Related Characters: Stevie (speaker), Winnie’s Mother (speaker), Mrs. Winnie Verloc (speaker)
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

"Poor! Poor!" stammered out Stevie, pushing his hands deeper into his pockets with convulsive sympathy. He could say nothing; for the tenderness to all pain and all misery, the desire to make the horse happy and the cabman happy, had reached the point of a bizarre longing to take them to bed with him. And that, he knew, was impossible. For Stevie was not mad. It was, as it were, a symbolic longing; and at the same time it was very distinct, because springing from experience, the mother of wisdom. […] To be taken into a bed of compassion was the supreme remedy, with the only one disadvantage of being difficult of application on a large scale. And looking at the cabman, Stevie perceived this clearly, because he was reasonable.

Related Characters: Stevie (speaker), Cab Driver, Winnie’s Mother, Mrs. Winnie Verloc
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Like a peripatetic philosopher, Mr Verloc, strolling along the streets of London, had modified Stevie's view of the police by conversations full of subtle reasonings. Never had a sage a more attentive and admiring disciple. The submission and worship were so apparent that Mr Verloc had come to feel something like a liking for the boy. In any case, he had not foreseen the swift bringing home of his connection. That his wife should hit upon the precaution of sewing the boy's address inside his overcoat was the last thing Mr Verloc would have thought of. […] That was what she meant when she said that he need not worry if he lost Stevie during their walks. She had assured him that the boy would turn up all right. Well, he had turned up with a vengeance!

Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

The lodger was Mr Verloc, indolent, and keeping late hours, sleepily jocular of a morning from under his bedclothes, but with gleams of infatuation in his heavy lidded eyes, and always with some money in his pockets. There was no sparkle of any kind on the lazy stream of his life. […] But his barque seemed a roomy craft, and his taciturn magnanimity accepted as a matter of course the presence of passengers.

Mrs Verloc pursued the visions of seven years' security for Stevie, loyally paid for on her part; of security growing into confidence, into a domestic feeling, stagnant and deep like a placid pool[.]

Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:
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Winnie’s Mother Character Timeline in The Secret Agent

The timeline below shows where the character Winnie’s Mother appears in The Secret Agent. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...is young, full-figured, and tidy, and she treats the awkward male customers with detachment. Winnie’s mother, a stout and sickly woman with swollen legs, also lives in their house. She used... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
After Verloc and Winnie got married, Winnie’s mother gave up the lodging-house, and she moved into their house in the less fashionable Soho... (full context)
Chapter 2
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
At dinner, Mr. Verloc is so thoughtfully silent that Winnie and her mother watch Stevie anxiously, not wanting him to disturb the master of the house. Winnie’s father... (full context)
Chapter 8
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Drawing on her late husband’s social connections, Winnie’s mother has secured a place in an almshouse for innkeepers’ widows. She carried out this task... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
When it’s time for Winnie’s mother to leave Brett Street, Winnie and Stevie come along for the cab ride. The carriage... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
As the ride slowly progresses, Winnie tells her mother that she doesn’t believe she will be happy in her new home. Wasn’t she comfortable... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Winnie’s mother’s tears had been genuine—she’d felt that she was sacrificing Winnie for Stevie’s sake. Though she... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Winnie promises that she will come to visit her mother often, and so will Stevie; Winnie points out that his mother’s departure will be devastating... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...deeply into things. She remains oblivious tonight, taking Stevie’s arm after saying farewell to her mother. She flatters Stevie by asking him to look out for her on the way home.... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
...Verloc is silent. Winnie had warned Stevie that Mr. Verloc would be sad about their mother’s departure, and Stevie believes with all his heart that Mr. Verloc is a good man,... (full context)
Anarchy, Terrorism, and Corruption Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Winnie is awake, lonely and troubled over her mother’s departure. Mr. Verloc silently wonders if Winnie’s mother had sensed disaster and fled, like rats... (full context)
Chapter 11
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...When she returns to the kitchen, Verloc assumes that she is going to see her mother, and he discourages her from going out at this hour of the night. Winnie realizes... (full context)
Chapter 12
Foreigners and the Modern City Theme Icon
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...the dark, misty city envelops her. She feels friendless and tries to forget about her mother. Winnie keeps dragging herself one step at a time, her fear of death dogging her.... (full context)
Weakness, Vulnerability, and Abuse Theme Icon
Loyalty, Conventionality, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...a tired young woman with others dependent on her; Verloc was willing to support her mother and Stevie, so what else could she do? But he turned out to be “a... (full context)