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How does Jeanette Winterson convey her central concerns in the narrative and what influences are significant to the reader's appreciation of the novel's title and central metaphor; Lighthousekeeping?

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The importance of stories, the urge to recreate ourselves through stories, is one of Winterson's abiding themes, along with the supremacy, the redemptive power of love." How does Jeanette Winterson convey her central concerns in the narrative and what influences are significant to the reader's appreciation of the novel's title and central metaphor; Lighthousekeeping? 'Utterly skewwhiff' is how one critic describes Lighthousekeeping, yet despite the disrupted narrative and switching of style so typical to the modern novel, the prevailing themes of Lighthousekeeping are made clear, sometimes to the point of bluntness. One of the main themes is undoubtedly storytelling and its role in our lives. We are persistently reminded of this by the repeated sequences starting with 'Tell me a story', first between Silver and Pew and then Silver and her lover. Despite the sometimes confusing structure of the novel the sequences draw the direction back to the core themes of love and storytelling, and also constantly remind us of the constructed nature of the text and the fact that we're reading a story. Storytelling is a 'way of navigating lives' and in this way the sequences help us navigate our way through the novel. ...read more.


Just as the Bible contains the teachings of a religion, Winterson has her own doctrines; the importance of storytelling and the 'moral imperative' of, if you love a person, telling them so- and these are emphasised in the different threads of the story. The influence her past has had on Winterson is also reflected in the numerous Biblical references in Lighthousekeeping. Babel dark is named after the Tower of Babel; 'after the first tower that ever was'. Like the tower Dark's life is built up at the beginning of the novel only to be broken down. The lighthouse is completed in the year of Babel's birth and Winterson draws contrasts between them, with Molly questioning 'Why could he not be as steady and as bright [as the lighthouse]?' and Babel claiming 'there is no light in me that can shine across the sea'. Unlike Silver he is unable to let himself be saved by love; he denies himself the women he loves but for two months of the year, and repeatedly betrays her. Silver claims 'Part broken, part whole, you begin again' but Babel is too broken; he is 'splintered by great waves' and 'coloured glass from a church window long since shattered'. ...read more.


Silver says 'Part broken, part whole, you begin again'; change and new beginnings are unavoidable as they are part of life. This seems to show that Winterson doubts the truth in the way people see the world. Unlike most she doesn't see our lives as an unswerving narrative and she questions the accepted concept of reality; she claims that it is through art that we can find a way to connect with the real world, which is transcendent. In this way there seems to be a correspondence between love and storytelling; similarly Winterson claims that love is the only way we can journey into and beyond the self. In this way love and storytelling seem to be held as important because they can let us access the true, sublime, nature of ourselves and the world around us. When told she is 'out of touch with reality' Silver claims she has 'been trying to find out what reality is so that I can touch it'; and like Winterson, the way she finds her place in the world is through storytelling and through the power of love. Like Darwin's character, the addition of the retelling of the story of Tristan and Isolde is significant to the novel. ...read more.

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