What is the theme of Antonia Susan Byatt's "Rose-Colored Teacups"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are two main themes in the story "Rose-Coloured Teacups." The first theme pertains to the generation gap between the three generations of women. This gap is brought to light through the breaking of inherited gifts—first in the present, when Veronica's daughter breaks her grandmother's sewing machine, and then in the past, when Veronica remembers when she broke her own grandmother's rose-colored teacups. Each generation of women has filled different roles in society.

The second theme is about the status of women in society. The color of the teacups symbolizes the traditional role of women in society. Veronica, who dislikes pink, accidentally breaks the teacup, which symbolizes her rejection of the traditional role of women in her culture. The force of her mother's anger at the broken teacup represents how much her mother has embraced the woman's role in her patriarchal society. Similarly, the breaking of the sewing machine by Veronica's daughter symbolizes her rejection of the status of women in her mother's generation. Veronica becomes angry, just as her own mother was when she broke the teacups, but then she remembers how her mother acted toward her. Since she has learned from her relationship with her own mother, she is able to resolve the conflict with her own daughter.

When Jane, Veronica's daughter, exits the room singing at the end of the story, the reader is hopeful that the status of women will continue to change and improve with Jane's generation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial