The train from Rhodesia

What do you learn about the newly married girl in this story? It seems from the text that the newly married girl is almost certainly white, and is most probably of middle/upper class. She seems at first quite confident and it seems that her new husband is quite willing to please her. She seems to like the lion carving offered to her on the train but she says, ‘Too expensive, too much,’ thinking that it is too much to pay for the item. Her young husband then insists loudly ‘Three-and-six’ almost as a way of showing his affection towards her.

She then says ‘Oh leave it,’ as if she doesn’t want it if he buys it for her. She further reinforces this when her husband asks if she wants it, and she says, ‘No, never mind. ‘ We find out more about the young woman and her problems in the next paragraph where she goes into the coupi?? where she sits down. Out of the window, on one side of the train. There is ‘nothing; sand and bush; a thorn tree. ‘ On the other side of the train, ‘Back through the open doorway, past the figure of her husband in the corridor, there was the station, the voices, wooden animals waving, running feet.

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‘ This creates an impression of desolate loneliness on one side (nothing but sand and bush) and freedom (wooden animals waving, running feet and the voices) on the other side with her husband standing between her and freedom and free speech symbolised by the voices. The writer then describes all the gifts inside the train’s compartment already. The young woman ponders, ‘How will they look at home? Where will you put them? What will they mean away from the places you found them? Away from the unreality of the last few weeks? The young man outside.

But he is not part of the unreality; he is for good now. Odd … somewhere there was an idea that he, that living with him, was part of the holiday, the strange places. ‘ This shows that although she is on honeymoon, she is still uncomfortable with living with this man. She feels that he is a strange experience and wishes that he was part of the strange places and experiences and could be left behind like the strange places of which she would only have happy memories because she feels peculiar when she is with him and thinks he won’t allow her any freedom.

When her husband comes back into the compartment he seems to be extremely proud of himself because he managed to buy the lion that his young wife wanted so badly for less than half of the price originally offered. The way he shakes his head with laughter and waggles the lion at her is almost aggressive. It almost seems like he sees his ‘achievement’ as an equivalent of him killing a lion for her but she does not seem impressed. She holds it away from her and she sees it in a different light. She sees it as less majestic because it had cost less.

I also believe that she sees this as demonstration of her new husband showing his true colours by not going out of his way to please her because he had to wait for the old man to run after the train offering a much discounted price for the lion because he is so desperate to sell it. She is indignant at him because he made the old man suffer and also did not really pay a fair price to the old man who had so painstakingly carved the piece by hand. She berates him for not taking it decently when he offered in the first place. His reason is ‘You liked it so much. ‘ She responds to this by saying, ‘It’s a beautiful piece of work.

‘ At this point it seems that she has a lot of angst bottled up inside and it is all about to overflow. She just becomes overwhelmed and just throws the lion on the seat. Later on ‘the discovery of a void’, ‘she was feeling like this again,’ and, ‘she had thought it was something to do with singleness, with being alone and belonging too much to oneself,’ shows that the young woman is not as confident as she seems at first. I also think that this shows why she got married; she had a void and thought it would have been filled by marriage but she was wrong, it had come back again.