What did Annette Brougham's students mean to her?

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Annette Brougham teaches singing and piano. Her students are described as being "at once her salvation and her despair." Wodehouse says that they are all alike in having "solid ivory skulls" and that there is "about a teaspoonful of grey matter distributed among the entire squad."

These students are clearly...

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Annette Brougham teaches singing and piano. Her students are described as being "at once her salvation and her despair." Wodehouse says that they are all alike in having "solid ivory skulls" and that there is "about a teaspoonful of grey matter distributed among the entire squad."

These students are clearly necessary for Annette to continue to be a musician, since she has not enough professional and performing engagements to support herself without teaching (a very common predicament for musicians). However, she does not enjoy the teaching at all, and her students' lack of intelligence and ability often drives her to distraction. Wodehouse remarks:

They gave her the means of supporting life, but they made life hardly worth supporting.

It is immediately after a particularly trying session with one of her worst students that Annette maliciously exposes Reginald Sellers to Alan Beverley, whom Sellers has been patronizing, as a purely commercial artist. Seller's work, she points out, appears principally in magazine advertisements for shoes and sardines. Annette soon regrets this and blames her bad mood on her student. However, the fact that she too has been using her talents not as an expressive artist but purely to make money provides an uneasy link between her and Sellers. This establishes the link between art and commerce as one of the principal themes of the story, a theme to which Wodehouse frequently returns at this early stage in his career as a writer.

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