Handling of time scheme in the novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What makes this novel so interesting is the way in which it treats time. Although on the whole the story is told in a chronological fashion, with events from 1930 up until the summer of 1939 being described to us, at various stages the story jumps ahead into the future which enables the author to reveal to us important information regarding the fates of various characters that would be impossible in a more traditional narrative approach.

Sparks uses this technique to juxtapose the future and the present in this novel, which in turn makes us think about the accuracy of such interpretations from a vantage point of the intervening years. One example that you might like to think about would be the way in which the students reflect on their thoughts and feelings about Miss Brodie in their adult lives when they look back. Mary Macgregor sees her school years as halcyon days of happiness. Eunice remembers Miss Brodie as being "full of culture." Sandy, even though she was responsible for the downfall of Miss Brodie, admits that she became successful in her field because of the inspiration of this figure.

The time scheme therefore helps us to analyse how memories function and how certain chapters in our lives, even though they are long passed in terms of the number of years that have gone by, are still just as vivid and real as ever because of the influence that they have had on us.


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