Given that the shoe-horn passes from Bridie to Sheila and then back again, the strange little tool comes to embody the complexities of their relationship and the various ways in which they carry the burden of trauma. Indeed, Sheila tells Bridie that she traded the shoe-horn in order to obtain antimalarial tablets, which Bridie needs in order to survive. In reality, though, Sheila secures the medication by having sex with the guards. As such, she keeps the shoe-horn. This, in turn, symbolizes the fact that Sheila has taken on the burden of saving Bridie’s life. In keeping with this, when she returns the shoe-horn to Bridie, Bridie is overcome by guilt and resentment, ultimately lashing out at Sheila because she isn’t yet capable of helping her friend deal with the pain of having been raped. In this way, the shoe-horn stands for the pair’s difficult struggle to support one another.
The Shoe-Horn Quotes in The Shoe-Horn Sonata
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!