‘A Picture of Zoe’ by Liam Stewart The Characterisation of Gerry and the Theme of Prejudice in the story 1. How does Gerry view his relationship with Zoe at first? Quote to support your answer. 2. What do his friends think of her? 3. How does Gerry describe his mum? Quote 4. How does Gerry’s reaction to the scene in the Happy Moon compare to that of Zoe? Quote Gerry: Zoe: Gerry: he thinks it’s entertaining, funny Zoe: feels sorry for the man 5. Similarly, how does his reaction to the Artist in the South Pacific compare to that of Zoe? Quote Gerry: 5. Similarly, how does his reaction to the Artist in the South Pacific compare to that of Zoe? Quote Zoe: Gerry: he is angry, thinks the Artist is taking the mickey and that Zoe is going to be offended Zoe: she thinks it’s sweet and values it as it is a present from Gerry 6. Quote the line which shows that Zoe’s reaction is not what Gerry believes it is. She takes care not to crumple the picture, showing how important it is to her. 7. What do both of these incidents show about Gerry’s character? Both of these incidents show us that Gerry completely misunderstands Zoe and does not realise what she is really like. He thinks she is looking down on him and what he can offer her, but this is not true. 8. Why did Gerry continue to go out with Zoe, despite the fact that he believed that she was looking down on him? What does this show about him? He is physically / sexually attracted to her and this shows how shallow he is – despite not appearing to actually like Zoe as he sees her, he keeps going out with her because he fancies her. 9. What does Gerry’s dream about Zoe suggest about his view of himself? He dreams that Zoe is talking about him and mocking him behind his back, calling him a ‘tramp’. He seems to subconsciously feel, despite what he says about his pride, that he is not good enough to be going out with her. 10. How does it affect his behaviour from this point onwards? 10. How does it affect his behaviour from this point onwards? The emotions stirred up by the dream are the catalyst, fuelled by alcohol, for his confrontation with Zoe. The feelings of resentment which it stirs up fester away in him until it all pours out. Note that Gerry said he doesn’t get aggressive, but that is just how Zoe describes him, showing that he has no real understanding of his own feelings and behaviour, or Zoe’s. 11. Explain the irony of the song playing on the juke box in Lauder’s bar: “You’re the only good thing”. This is ironic because Zoe is ‘the only good thing’ in Gerry’s life, but he doesn’t realise it and his future actions mean he is about to lose her. 12. How does Gerry react to the advertisement he reads in the Situations Vacant? How does this add to what we already know of his character? Gerry sees himself as being ‘the wrong sort’, not the kind of person anyone would want to employ, and his insecurities are reflected in his view of Zoe – he doesn’t think that he is the type of person that someone like Zoe would go out with, so he thinks she must have ulterior motives for being in a relationship with him and couldn’t just like him for who he is. 13. How does Gerry’s treatment of Dr Kichecky compare to that of Zoe’s? What picture is being built up of Gerry’s character? 13. How does Gerry’s treatment of Dr Kichecky compare to that of Zoe’s? What picture is being built up of Gerry’s character? Zoe has given Dr Kichecky £2 and has taken the time to talk to him and give him her name and address so that he can return the money to her when his cheque arrives – she is either very naive, or did not want to embarrass him so played along with his story. However, to Gerry he is just an inconvenience getting in his way and he has no interest in treating him with respect: ‘I shove ten pence in his hand and try to get past him.’ He sees a link between himself and the Dr – he thinks they are both being treated as charity cases by Zoe, and this adds to his anger as he sets out to confront her. 14. “The grey rain drizzling down all day”...”I step out of the warm, boozy atmosphere into the grey, pissing rain. It’s coming down heavy now”... “The rain’s torrential now.” • How does the weather reflect the build up to the climax / turning point of the story? This starts the link between Gerry’s emotions (caused / reflected by the dream) and the waterfall / rain. 14. “The grey rain drizzling down all day”...”I step out of the warm, boozy atmosphere into the grey, pissing rain. It’s coming down heavy now”... “The rain’s torrential now.” • How does the weather reflect the build up to the climax / turning point of the story? The weather reflects the emotional turmoil of the climax – the rain becomes heavier as Gerry’s mood darkens and his anger and resentment grow, building up to the climax of his confrontation with Zoe. This imagery could also be connected to the symbolic cleansing properties of water as his false view of Zoe is washed away. 15. Explain the irony of Gerry lying in the gutter in the rain as Zoe’s bus drives away. Gerry thought that Zoe saw him as being in the gutter of life. Without her he is literally there. 16. What does Gerry realise in the days after he splits up with Zoe? How does this relate to the theme of prejudice in the story? Gerry was so obsessed by and convinced by the false picture of Zoe which he had created in his mind that he made no effort to actually find out anything about her. This relates to the theme of prejudice in the story because he judged her on her appearance, the way she spoke and where she lived rather than on her personality and character. He did not bother to find out who she really was, just based his view of her on assumptions. 17. What is the significance of Gerry, a year later, ending up “back in the South Pacific hoping for what, I don’t know”? What is Liam Stewart trying to say to the reader? Ending: Opening: 17. What is the significance of Gerry, a year later, ending up “back in the South Pacific hoping for what, I don’t know”? What is Liam Stewart trying to say to the reader? The story starts and finishes in the same place – Gerry is revisiting where he went with Zoe and he tells us that he has kept the picture the Artist drew of her a year before. When he was with Zoe he had a false view of her, reflected by the childish, scribbled portrait of her which he paid for. She threw the picture back at him (symbolising her rejection of his view of her) when he confronted her and revealed his own distorted picture of her. A year later he has not moved on, his life is stuck in the same pattern and he is visiting the same places, perhaps hoping to bump into Zoe and rekindle their romance. 18. What contrast is Liam Stewart trying to highlight as Gerry watches the clerk’s treatment of the Artist? 18. What contrast is Liam Stewart trying to highlight as Gerry watches the clerk’s treatment of the Artist? The clerk has the same attitude towards the Artist as Gerry did, and comes across as a nasty, grumpy man. This is in contrast to Zoe’s reaction to him when he drew her picture a year before when she said it was ‘lovely’. We see Gerry being reflected in the clerk’s behaviour, and wonder whether this is how he will end up, ‘a middle-aged guy who looks like a shabby office clerk’. There is no comment from Gerry on the clerk’s behaviour, so it is unclear how self-aware he is, or whether he still rejects how others see him, like the clerk who lets the picture fall to the floor. 19. Do you feel sympathy for Gerry? Explain why / why not. 20. Do you think Liam Stewart has successfully conveyed his message to the reader about prejudice?