The Wasp Factory


Iain Banks

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Frank and Paul’s mother. She is in their lives only briefly. Frank meets her twice, once when he is born, and once when she returns to give birth to Paul. Agnes, like Angus was in his youth, is a free spirit. She doesn’t particularly like children, which is why she leaves them with Angus. Rather than stay with her family, after giving birth to Paul she takes off on her motorcycle. When Angus tries to block her way, she runs him over. Frank blames much of the misfortune in his life on Agnes, whose presence provided a distraction during which Old Saul was able to castrate him. As a result, Frank sees Agnes as the root of his own violent tendencies.

Agnes Quotes in The Wasp Factory

The The Wasp Factory quotes below are all either spoken by Agnes or refer to Agnes. 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:
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Chapter 3 Quotes

My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea. These things I hate. Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made. And I’m not at all sure the Wind is blameless, either.

The Sea is a sort of mythological enemy, and I make what you might call sacrifices to it in my soul, fearing it a little, respecting it as you’re supposed to, but in many ways treating it as an equal. It does things to the world, and so do I; we should both be feared. Women…well, women are a bit too close for comfort as far as I’m concerned. I don’t even like having them on the island, not even Mrs Clamp, who comes every week on a Saturday to clean the house and deliver our supplies. She’s ancient, and sexless the way the very old and the very young are, but she’ll still been a woman, and I resent that, for my own good reason.

Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
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Agnes Character Timeline in The Wasp Factory

The timeline below shows where the character Agnes appears in The Wasp Factory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: The Bomb Circle
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Bomb Circle, Angus’s injured leg, and Frank’s many dead pets are all the fault of Agnes, his mother, who disliked children, sent Eric away to Belfast when he was a toddler,... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Skull Grounds
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
When Frank was three his mother, Agnes, who had been absent his entire life, returned to the island on her motorcycle. She... (full context)
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Two days later, Agnes left on her motorcycle, leaving Paul behind. Angus tried to stop her, but she ran... (full context)
Chapter 10: Running Dog
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Frank resents Agnes for having Eric sent away during his early years. He also blames his father for... (full context)