Characterisation of Helen

In this part of the study guide we will focus on the mannequin the narrator names Helen. Helen is a lifeless mannequin, but in the story she is given human attributes by the narrator who perceives her as a living woman. As a result, we will refer to the dummy as ‘she’ or ‘her’ in this part of the study guide, to reflect the narrator’s perspective. However, you should remember that all ‘her’ traits are only the narrator’s projections.

Outer characterisation

Helen’s outer characterisation renders her as a beautiful woman working in a fashion store. The narrator pays considerable attention to her physical traits:

The legs were well apart, the right foot boldly advanced, the left trailing with studied casualness. She held her right hand before her, almost touching the window, the fingers thrusting up like a beautiful flower. The left hand she held a little behind her and seemed to push down playful lapdogs. Head well back, a faint smile, eyes half-closed with boredom or pleasure. 

Inner characterisation

Helen’s inner characterisation (as imagined by the narrator) reveals that she is a virgin who discovers sexuality through the narrator: "I drew her close to me, her naked body against mine, and as I did so I saw her wide-eyed look of fear . . . she was a virgin." 

Furthermore, she is the perfect listener, an understanding female figure, not threatened by the male being the cook, and not n...

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