They are evacuated to escape the Nazi bombing of London i. Penny is tall, thin, pale, and possibly older than Primrose, who is plump with curly blond hair. They are anxious and scared, thinking of themselves as orphans. Some of the children cry themselves to sleep that first night. The next morning, after breakfast, Penny and Primrose decide to explore the forest.
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They are evacuated to escape the Nazi bombing of London i. Penny is tall, thin, pale, and possibly older than Primrose, who is plump with curly blond hair. They are anxious and scared, thinking of themselves as orphans. Some of the children cry themselves to sleep that first night.
The next morning, after breakfast, Penny and Primrose decide to explore the forest. A younger child, Alys, wants to go with them, but they tell her no, saying she is too little. When the thing is gone, the frightened girls return to the mansion. The next day, they are sent to stay in separate places for the rest of the evacuation. After the evacuation, the girls return to their families, which the war has altered. The years pass, and Penny goes to university, studying developmental psychology.
Primrose struggles in school, due to having to babysit her younger siblings. In , Penny and Primrose, having had no contact during the forty years since they saw the thing in the forest, travel separately to the country mansion, which has been turned into a museum.
They run into each other while looking at an old book on display. The book tells the story of the Loathly Worm, a giant creature that, according to legend, had once terrorized the countryside around the mansion. Delighting at their reunion, the women have tea and talk about their lives. Neither is married, and neither has children. Finally, they discuss the day they met the loathly worm in the forest.
They wonder what happened to Alys, the child who had wanted to go with them into the forest, and agree that the worm must have killed her. Penny and Primrose agree to have dinner together the next evening, but neither of them shows up.
On the following day, they set out separately for the forest surrounding the mansion. Primrose hikes for a while, then sits on a tree trunk, thinking of her mother, who used to make stuffed animals to give to her.
Finally, she walks out of the forest. Penny is in a different part of the forest, trying to find the spot where she and Primrose had seen the loathly worm as children. She thinks about her own dead father. After a while, when night falls, she leaves the forest. Finding the same spot, she waits and silently calls to the worm, which she then hears approaching. Penny is ready for whatever happens. Primrose does not return to the forest, going instead to one of her storytelling sessions in a shopping mall.
She smiles at her students and tells them about two little girls who saw, or believed they saw, a thing in a forest. Aycock, Anthony. Retrieved March 10, Copy to Clipboard.
A. S. Byatt
Summary Analysis Penny and Primrose are two girls who are evacuated with a group of children to a mansion in the English countryside during World War II. They are evacuated to escape the German bombing of London i. The children are described as a ragtag bunch, with scuffed shoes and scraped knees, and carrying toys and dolls as items of comfort, most likely to forestall the terror they must feel. The war is the event that the girls are literally escaping, but they will spend the rest of their lives trying to escape it figuratively, as well, as they struggle to cope with the traumatic experience of leaving their families and encountering the Thing in the forest. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Penny is tall, thin, and pale—possibly older than Primrose, who is plump with curly blond hair. The narrator compares them to Hansel and Gretel, two fairy tale children who were likewise led into a strange environment with no promise that they would return.
The Thing in the Forest
The Thing in the Forest by A. Instead, it reinforces in each of them the need to stick to her own path of recovery. My class had to read this story and we went over it in class. The girls arrive, along with a group of many other children, at the mansion—a big, eerie place surrounded by a forest. Their individual responses to the forest after the initial incident also influenced their career choices. I read this short story for my AP English class. Penny succumbs; Primrose does not.