The Wasp Factory

by

Iain Banks

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Esmerelda Stove Character Analysis

Frank’s little cousin, the daughter of Harmsworth and Morag. A sweet, trusting, easygoing child, Frank kills her because he feels he has killed too many boys and needs a girl to balance it out. Frank ties her to an enormous kite that carries her away across the sea, and she is never seen again.

Esmerelda Stove Quotes in The Wasp Factory

The The Wasp Factory quotes below are all either spoken by Esmerelda Stove or refer to Esmerelda Stove. 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
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Wasp Factory published in 1998.
Chapter 5 Quotes

I killed little Esmerelda because I felt I owed it to myself and to the world in general. I had, after all, accounted for two male children and thus done womankind something of a statistical favour. If I really had the courage of my convictions, I reasoned, I ought to redress the balance at least slightly. My cousin was simply the easiest and most obvious target.

Again, I bore her no personal ill-will. Children aren’t real people, in the sense that they are not small males and females but a separate species which will (probably) grow into one or the other in due time.

Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

I had decided I would try to murder Esmerelda before she and her parents even arrived for their holiday. Eric was away on a school cruise, so there would only be me and her. It would be risky, so soon after Paul’s death, but I had to do something to even up the balance. I could feel it in my guts, in my bones; I had to. It was like an itch, something I had no way of resisting, like when I walk along a pavement in Porteneil and I accidentally scuff one heel on a paving stone. I have to scuff the other foot as well, with near as possible the same weight, to feel good again… In a whole range of ways like that I try to keep balanced, though I have no idea why. It is simply something that must be done; and, in the same way, I had to get rid of some woman, tip the scales back in the other direction.

Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

We played some stories out: brave soldiers in the dunes and fighting, winning and fighting and fighting and sometimes dying. Those were the only times he deliberately hurt me, when his stories required his own heroic death and I would take it all too seriously as he lay expiring on the grass or the sands, having just blown up the bridge or the dam or the enemy convoy and like as not saved me from death, too; I would choke back tears and punch him lightly as I tried to change the story myself and he refused, slipping away from me and dying; too often dying.

When he had his migraines – sometimes lasting days – I lived on the edge, taking cool drinks and some food up to the darkened room on the second floor, creeping in, standing and shaking sometimes if he moaned and shifted on the bed. I was wretched while he suffered, and nothing meant anything; the games and the stories seemed stupid and pointless, and only throwing stones at bottles or seagulls made much sense. I went out fishing for gulls, determined things other than Eric should suffer: when he recovered it was like him coming back for the summer all over again, and I was irrepressible.

Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
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Esmerelda Stove Character Timeline in The Wasp Factory

The timeline below shows where the character Esmerelda Stove appears in The Wasp Factory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Snake Park
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
...dead relative—his uncle Harmsworth Stove, who killed himself after Frank killed his daughter, Frank’s cousin, Esmerelda. (full context)
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
...committed in his life: Blyth, then Paul, two years later, and then his little cousin Esmerelda the year after that. Frank remarks that he doesn’t “intend to [kill] ever again. It... (full context)
Chapter 3: In the Bunker
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
...suspects that many parents guessed about his connection to the deaths of Blyth, Paul, and Esmerelda. (full context)
Chapter 4: The Bomb Circle
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
...people inside my brain.” Frank feels a little guilty about having killed Blyth, Paul and Esmerelda. Similarly, a part of him feels guilty for massacring the rabbits. (full context)
Chapter 5: A Bunch of Flowers
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Frank explains that he killed Esmerelda because, after killing two boys, he felt he had to do his part to correct... (full context)
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Frank sensed that Esmerelda’s parents were suspicious of him, but they let Esmerelda visit the island one summer anyway.... (full context)
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
Sexism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
That summer Frank made many kites, and took Esmerelda with him. This gave him his fatal idea. Secretly, he constructed a giant kite out of... (full context)
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
...the fact of three nearby deaths was suspicious, so he planned out his response to Esmerelda’s disappearance. He acted nearly catatonic, refusing to speak to anyone, alternately feigning sleep and then... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Wasp Factory
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
...of the bomb that killed Paul, a piece of fabric from the kite that killed Esmerelda, some of Old Saul’s teeth.  Frank begins his ritual. He holds his crotch and chants... (full context)