In 'The Trick is to Keep Breathing', Janice Galloway takes us into the mind of drama teacher Joy Stone, as she struggles with mental illness following the death of her lover, Michael.
Which of the following statements is true?
The plot of 'The Trick is to Keep Breathing' is more important than the main character’s experiences.
The plot of 'The Trick is to Keep Breathing' is subsidiary to the character’s inner experience of the things that happen to her.
The plot of 'The Trick is to Keep Breathing' is eventful, has many twists and there is an exciting climax at the end.
What do the main flashbacks in the novel in italics reveal?
Joy’s troubled memories of her mother’s suicide.
Joy’s troubled memories of Michael’s death.
Joy’s troubled relationship with her sister.
What happens when Myra comes to visit Joy?
She drinks then attacks Joy, forcing her to run away.
She drinks and starts to collect objects belonging to their mother.
She drinks, yells at Joy and becomes emotional .
Joy self-harms using a tin of soup near the beginning of the novel. What does she realize afterwards?
She needs to make her own food.
She has a serious issue and she needs to see a psychiatrist.
She does not need to eat.
Why does the memorial service plunge Joy into further trauma?
The reverend does not mention her in his addresses, and she realizes on some level that, as a lover, not a wife, her grief has no significance in this society.
It is here she begins to process the death of Michael for the first time and this is very difficult and emotional.
She had to come face to face with Michael’s wife and this is extremely difficult for her.
What happens in Joy’s nightmare and what can it show us?
In her dream, Joy is driving the bus. She has forgotten how to drive and sees a wall in front of her. She crashes into this and this is the moment she wakes up. This can show she feels she has lost her way on her life journey.
In her dream, Joy boards the wrong bus. When she flicks her eyes to the driver’s mirror, there is no one driving. There is a wall ahead and they accelerate towards the wall. It is somehow all her fault. The dream can suggest Joy feels she has lost control of her life because of her depression. She also feels guilty about this.
In her dream Joy boards her usual bus. Everything looks exactly the same, but there is no one on the bus except the driver. This can signify the loneliness and isolation Joy feels in her life as she becomes increasingly isolated in society.
Why is Joy worried about the hospital ‘dinner with wine’ at the Goodwill Inn?
She will cry throughout the meal. She will feel embarrassed. She will feel sick.
No one will dance with her. She will make no-ones evening. She has nothing in common with the people she is going with, apart from mental illness.
She will do something wrong, She will have a panic attack, She will lose her temper with the others
What is Dr Stead’s reaction when Joy is discharged from hospital?
He refuses to see her because he has spent enough time with her already.
He has her immediately readmitted to hospital.
He thinks it may be a mistake but doesn’t mind being proved wrong.
After Tony seduces Joy, she asks him Is this what you want? Will this keep you happy?
Is this what you want? Will this keep you happy?
What can this show us?
Joy feels an acute need to please other people. In her vulnerable state she is submissive even to the point of letting Tony use her.
Joy feels she needs to please Tony because she is afraid of him.
Joy is worried about keeping her job at the bookies and sleeps with Tony so he will not fire her.
Inside the headphones I hear the rise and fall, the surf beating in my lungs. Reach for the bottle.
Watch the lights
Which of the following is the most effective analysis of the final quote?
This is significant because of the reference to breathing in water. Michael has died by drowning. In contrast, Joy has found the ‘trick’ to keep living:a breathing technique to help her navigate the metaphorical pool of life. The fact that she watches ‘the lights’ contrasts with the start of the novel where she sits in the dark, indicating she is on the path to life and healing and has made progress.
Water imagery has recurred throughout the novel. It is fitting that the novel ends with another example. The lights are an example of positive religious imagery and this shows she is moving towards life and healing.
It is significant that this happens inside the headphones. It is like the rest of the novel which happens on the inside of Joy’s head. The bottle is a reference to Joy’s alcoholism which is as yet unresolved. The light imagery and water imagery is memorable and poignant.