Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 376

Eleanor Oliphant, the narrator of the story, has just turned twenty-nine at the outset of the novel. She lives in Glasgow, where she works as a finance clerk for a design company. In her story, Eleanor brings out various themes.

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Firstly, the author brings out the theme of love in various instances within the story. When Eleanor attends a concert after winning raffle tickets, she falls in love with a singer by the name of Johnnie Lomond. She becomes convinced that Johnnie is "husband material" and the love of her life. As a result, she begins to follow his Twitter and discovers his residence. She visits the building where Johnnie lives with the hope of meeting him. For the first time since she was thirteen years old, she becomes conscious of her body. She visits Bobbi Brown’s beauty shop for a manicure and gets a haircut, with the hope of impressing Johnnie once they meet. Additionally, love is depicted in the instance where Raymond saves Eleanor’s life. This happens when Raymond is sent by their boss to investigate why Eleanor was absent from work. Raymond finds out that Eleanor was trying to commit suicide. He takes his time to help clean her up and continues to check on her regularly during her road to recovery. Eventually, with the help of Raymond and the counselor, Eleanor’s childhood story is able to emerge.

Isolation (and the accompanying loneliness) is another key theme in the story. In several instances, the protagonist is seen to be lonely and isolated from the rest of the world. During her lunch break, Eleanor spends time completing the crossword on The Daily Telegraph rather than enjoying the company of her colleagues at work. The protagonist does not have any social contacts or friends, and during her weekends, she spends time drinking vodka all by herself. Eleanor takes no interest in her own appearance; she has not cut her hair since she was thirteen years old. She has always described herself as “absolutely fine," and she never found anything wrong with her lifestyle. Her colleagues at work regard her as a bit of a joke, using the term “Wacko Jacko” in reference to her. She prefers to keep her problems to herself.

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