The Shoe-Horn Sonata

by

John Misto

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Lipstick Larry Character Analysis

One of the Japanese guards at the prison camp where Sheila and Bridie are held captive during World War II. The prisoners call this guard “Lipstick Larry” because he punches women in the face if he catches them with lipstick on. When Bridie contracts malaria, Sheila visits Lipstick Larry and pleads for quinine tablets, but he shows complete indifference. As such, Sheila agrees to have sex with him and his friends in exchange for the medication. Decades after this incident, Sheila tells Bridie that Lipstick Larry still haunts her every night.

Lipstick Larry Quotes in The Shoe-Horn Sonata

The The Shoe-Horn Sonata quotes below are all either spoken by Lipstick Larry or refer to Lipstick Larry. 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:
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Currency Press edition of The Shoe-Horn Sonata published in 1996.
Act One, Scene Eight Quotes

BRIDIE: You didn’t. Tell me you didn’t.

SHEILA: [angrily] You were the one who wanted to know. I told you to leave it alone.

BRIDIE: [shocked] You didn’t sleep with a Jap. Not you.

SHEILA: You were screaming. And he went and got quinine. For you. And he showed the tablets to me—and he pointed to the barracks—where his mates were waiting.

BRIDIE: Don’t! I don’t want to hear this!

Related Characters: Bridie (speaker), Sheila (speaker), Lipstick Larry
Related Symbols: The Shoe-Horn
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Ten Quotes

BRIDIE: [upset] Why did you have to go with that Jap?

SHEILA: Ssshh!

BRIDIE: You were only a girl—a child!

SHEILA: I had to do it. I couldn’t let you die.

BRIDIE: If only I’d known—I would never have let you... Sheila—please—let me try and help.

SHEILA: [haunted] Every night when I fall asleep, Lipstick Larry’s waiting. He calls to me and I go to him— and no one can change that. Not even you.

Related Characters: Bridie (speaker), Sheila (speaker), Lipstick Larry
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

I almost confided in mother once. [Sadly] Isn’t that amusing? It was just before I sailed from Singapore. I took her hand and whispered that... there was something I needed to tell her—about the Japanese. Mother poured herself a drink and said: ‘You know what the Bible says, my dear. “No cross, no crown.” We must pull up our socks and get on with it.’ Took more than a war to change Mother.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Bridie, Lipstick Larry, Sheila’s Mother
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Thirteen Quotes

She went to... the Japs... to a Japanese guard—and... she sold herself to him for tablets. She was a beautiful, kind and brave young woman. [Looking at SHEILA.] She wasn’t just my friend— she was— she is—the other half of my life. And she gave herself to him... so that I... could have quinine... And she never told me till two nights ago. For fifty years she never told anyone... They don’t give medals for things like that. But they should.

Related Characters: Bridie (speaker), Sheila, Lipstick Larry, Rick (“M. Voice”)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lipstick Larry Character Timeline in The Shoe-Horn Sonata

The timeline below shows where the character Lipstick Larry appears in The Shoe-Horn Sonata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene Four
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...the Japanese guards. The two women then laugh about how they tormented a guard named Lipstick Larry by leaving a rusty pin in the inseam of his loincloth, so that when he... (full context)
Act One, Scene Eight
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...to hear what comes next. Still, though, Sheila pushes on, saying that she went to Lipstick Larry because he was “always smiling at [her].” She offered him all of their belongings in... (full context)
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
Continuing her story, Sheila says that Lipstick Larry showed her the quinine tablets and then brought her to the barracks, where a group... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Nine
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...how Bridie contracted malaria and almost died. Indeed, she tells him that she went to Lipstick Larry and offered to swap the shoe-horn for antimalarial tablets, saying that he “took pity” on... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Ten
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...the television studio until Bridie comes in and asks why she didn’t tell her about Lipstick Larry earlier. Sheila says that she wanted to, but that right after the war—when they were... (full context)
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...Bridie can do, a point she makes clear by telling her friend that she sees Lipstick Larry every night when she goes to bed. “He calls to me and I go to... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Thirteen
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...my friend—she was—she is—the other half of my life. And she gave herself to [ Lipstick Larry ]… so that I… could have quinine… And she never told me till two nights... (full context)