(Short Stories for Students)

Knowledge and Ignorance
‘‘Debbie and Julie’’ tells of the knowledge that is earned through the trials of life experience. Julie, its teenage protagonist, runs away from her conservative parents in order to hide her pregnancy from them. She is taken in by a kind prostitute and survives the terrifying ordeal of giving birth alone in an abandoned shed. After a five-month absence, she returns home, a more mature and insightful person. Most significantly, she is now able to see her parents with more critical distance and more sympa- thetic understanding. At the end of the story, she is in a position to consider her future options with greater freedom and realism than she was before her accidental pregnancy.

Julie attributes much of her newfound knowledge to Debbie, the woman who took her in. Debbie is worldly. She has had a hard life as a prostitute but has won a measure of independence with her own business. When Julie arrived in London, she was ‘‘innocent and silly.’’ She has learned from Debbie ‘‘the value of everything’’ and ‘‘what had to be paid.’’ In addition to this lesson in pragmatic selfpreservation, however, she has also learned the value of emotional openness and expressiveness. Debbie is uninhibited and nonjudgmental—a stark contrast to Julie’s parents, who live a narrow and repressed existence. Julie realizes that her parents are ignorant of many of life’s pleasures and opportunities and that they choose to remain blinded to some of life’s agonies, as well: ‘‘It was as if they had switched themselves off.’’

Love and Intimacy
The title names the relationship between Debbie and Julie as the most significant one in the story, despite the fact that Debbie is absent throughout the events of the narrative. The love between Debbie and Julie is stronger than the love between Julie and her mother or her newborn baby,...

(The entire section is 781 words.)