The Shoe-Horn Sonata

by

John Misto

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Sheila’s Mother Character Analysis

A proper and somewhat conceited woman who tells Sheila—her daughter—that it’s dishonorable to run “from a few Orientals,” despite the obvious fact that the Japanese are about to invade Malaysia. A deeply patriotic woman who cares about politeness above all else, Sheila’s mother actively silences her daughter when she tries to tell her about her rape-related trauma after World War II.

Sheila’s Mother Quotes in The Shoe-Horn Sonata

The The Shoe-Horn Sonata quotes below are all either spoken by Sheila’s Mother or refer to Sheila’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:
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 Three Quotes

BRIDIE: [not meaning to be rude] The British were a bit thick sometimes.

SHEILA: [slightly annoyed] We were patriotic. We didn’t want to leave. I remember mother saying, ‘Sheila, you and I are English women. We do not run away from a few Orientals...’

Related Characters: Bridie (speaker), Sheila (speaker), Sheila’s Mother
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

Before I left mother said to me, ‘You’ll be living with Colonials now, so set a good example. Always wear gloves—wherever you go. Don’t socialize with Catholics—unless they’re French or titled. And never kiss an Australian on the lips.’

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Sheila’s Mother
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

SHEILA instinctively reaches out to take BRIDIE’s hand. They hold hands. And once again they both look very vulnerable. We hear Japanese voices on the soundtrack.

SHEILA: I wanted to cry. [With resolution] But I reminded myself I was a Woman of the Empire. And it just wasn't done to show fear to the natives. [Wistful smile] I could almost hear my mother saying: ‘Chin up, gel! And where are your gloves?’

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Bridie, Sheila’s Mother, Rick (“M. Voice”)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Ten Quotes

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:
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Sheila’s Mother Character Timeline in The Shoe-Horn Sonata

The timeline below shows where the character Sheila’s Mother appears in The Shoe-Horn Sonata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene Three
Pride and Patriotism Theme Icon
...remark, Sheila cuts in, saying, “We were patriotic. We didn’t want to leave. I remember mother saying, ‘Sheila, you and I are English women. We do not run away from a... (full context)
Pride and Patriotism Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
...projected on the screen, Sheila explains that she boarded a boat for Australia while her mother stayed in order to “stop the Japs looting her silver.” A Bridie’s behest, Sheila hesitantly... (full context)
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Pride and Patriotism Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
...that she found her new friend rather “stand-offish.” “Cartwright is an Irish name,” Sheila interjects. “Mother wouldn’t have approved.” Similarly, Bridie admits that she thought of Sheila as just “another stuck... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Ten
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...else about what happened to her, and Sheila says she once tried to tell her mother. As soon as she began, though, her mother told her to “pull up [her] socks... (full context)