The Shoe-Horn Sonata

by

John Misto

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The Shoe-Horn Symbol Analysis

The Shoe-Horn Symbol Icon

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

The The Shoe-Horn Sonata quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Shoe-Horn. 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:
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The Shoe-Horn Symbol Timeline in The Shoe-Horn Sonata

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Shoe-Horn appears in The Shoe-Horn Sonata. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene One
Pride and Patriotism Theme Icon
Bridie tells Rick, the interviewer, that her father gave her a shoe-horn on the day she left Australia. “There are three things every young soldier should know,”... (full context)
Act One, Scene Three
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Pride and Patriotism Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
...enough to keep Sheila awake, so Bridie starts hitting her on the forehead with her shoe-horn whenever she nods off. “Cut it out, you Catholic cow!” Sheila yelled after a while. (full context)
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Thinking about how she used her shoe-horn to keep Sheila awake, Bridie notes that she lost the handy tool “later in the... (full context)
Act One, Scene Five
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
...entire thing—needed someone to keep time, she ask Bridie to mark the beat with her shoe-horn, which she always wore on a necklace. In this way, their orchestral choir took shape,... (full context)
Act One, Scene Six
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...in the room. Moving to the dresser, Sheila opens a drawer and takes out a shoe-horn, staring at it as a voice-over plays. As she stands there looking at the shoe-horn,... (full context)
Act One, Scene Seven
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
...she explains, was made out to Sheila, giving her all of her possessions, including her shoe-horn, her tobacco tin, and her “half-share” of their caramel. “Your caramel?” Rick asks, clearly entertained.... (full context)
Act One, Scene Eight
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...Bridie—here’s your answer.” With this, she yanks open the dresser drawer and takes out the shoe-horn. (full context)
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
Bridie is shocked to see her own initials engraved on the shoe-horn. “But you swapped this,” she says. “For quinine—when I came down with the fever.” She... (full context)
Survival, Resilience, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...audience hears young Sheila’s voice, saying, “Bridie, love—it’s me. Look—I’ve got tablets. I sold your shoe-horn. I’ve got tablets. Come on now—try and swallow them… Don’t leave me, Bridie. Please don’t... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Nine
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...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 her and decided to accept the... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Fourteen
Friendship, Sacrifice, and Resentment Theme Icon
Trauma and Repression Theme Icon
...for Christmas—a suggestion that makes Bridie very happy. At this point, Sheila hands Bridie the shoe-horn, saying, “I’m sorry I…kept it so long.” Moved, the two women finally fulfill their pact... (full context)