What is the unstated message in these quotes from the Muriel Spark story "You Should Have Seen the Mess"? 1. "...but he went round like a tramp, lending people money, as I have seen with my own eyes." 2. "He is well spoken, although he has not got a university education behind him."

Expert Answers

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

Muriel Spark's short story "You Should Have Seen the Mess" is about a young woman named Lorna who tends to dismiss anything different from her, or anyone who won't accept her, as messy. She says the first quote about Willy Morley, an artist who the Darbys introduce her to. The unstated message in this quote is that Lorna can't quite understand Willy. He says he wants to paint her, but he never does so. He says she is beautiful, but he never really pushes the relationship beyond that. Lorna dismisses him because he gives away his money, which she doesn't understand; underneath what she says is the reality that Willy confuses her, so she rejects him. 

The second quote is about Mr. Marwood, who is a colleague of Lorna's at Low's Chemical Company. Even though Mr. Marwood looks proper, he isn't college educated. Lorna points this out to dismiss him, as she tends to find a reason to dismiss everyone. The reason she likes Lows's is that there is "special lighting over the desks," and she remains distant from her co-workers. She is defensive because she did not get into grammar school, so she points out other people's educational gaps. The unstated message in this quote is that Lorna tends to dismiss everyone she meets so she can remain untouched and unaffected by them. As she insists on cleanliness in the world, she also insists on keeping her soul antiseptically clean and untouched. 

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