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Small Island - Andrea Levy (2004): which elements of Hortense's childhood can explain her behaviour as an adult?

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  1. The rigor and the discipline Hortense was used to as a child living in a wealthy and bigot family
  2. The fact that Hortense doesn't receive the attention that parents usually give to their children

This theme is large so we decided to focus on the theme of family throughout the novel, and especially Hortense's family. This character is a complex one and the reader doesn't always support her as she is often showing contempt to Queenie or Gilbert, her husband. In addition, she is sometimes self-centered and strongly attached to good manners which makes her annoying. At the beginning of the novel, she is always berating Gilbert as she is disappointed by where he lives in. Before she ever comes to England, the reader is surprised by the easiness with which she betrays her friend Celia and marries Gilbert instead of her. We chose this character because she experienced a painful childhood, which explains many of her reactions as an adult.

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