Characterisation - Jackson's wife

Jackson’s wife does not view Glasgow with the level of nostalgia that her husband does. For example, she took no pleasure in her memory of the Jamieson family. Her speech is blunt and direct throughout her time in the tenements. That the reader never actually finds out her name perhaps suggests that, as a woman, she was not treated equally and granted sufficient respect.

Jackson’s wife is uncomfortable in the Glasgow environment. Her fur coat – with its connotations of expense and luxury - is used to symobolise her own sense of supremacy throughout:

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she kept her fur coat as far away from them [discoloured doors] as she could

In contrast, as she arrives at a plush hotel she smiled, trailing her fur coat.

Jackson’s wife’s mood completely changes when they arrive in the hotel. Beforehand, she is short and curt, but in the hotel she is clearly happy. Like Jackson, she is only content when she reaches a luxurious environment, where she feels her social status is re-enforced:

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she was smiling as if she expected someone to take a photograph of her.

Like Jackson, she believes she is superior to the community she once lived in. The description of her as an empress surrounded by prairie dogs suggests her status but also shows how out of place, even comical, she is. She is perhaps more aware of being out of place, telling Jackson that they should be back in Africa where we belong.

It is implied that she wanted out of their surroundings more than he did. She says he was lazy and would go out ferreting when you were here and liked being with the boys, she had other ideas of 'bettering' themselves:

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Remember it was me who drove you to the top.

Now they have got to the top it is unclear how happy they are together. When alone in the tenement they bicker. In public, at the hotel they seem happier but perhaps this too is for show - as if a happy marriage was another status symbol.