First person narrative

First person narrative plunges the reader into the feelings, motivations and experiences of the Joy. It allows us to experience what it is like to be inside a mind that is severely depressed and falling apart. The effect is often claustrophobic. Just as Joy cannot switch off her depression, neither can the reader escape from the strange voice and it’s often disturbing or skewed observations.

Within this overarching technique Janice Galloway uses a range of other literary and visual techniques to further reflect Joy's inner life.

Chapter dividers

The chapters are divided with three large Os. This links to the imagery at the scene of Michael's death. Joy describes the poolside after the accident:

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there are men at the side of the pool. They stand in a rough O near the water looking down.

Later Joy describes the little boy who tells her Michael is dead:

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His mouth is a red O, wide to the sky.

The empty Os can be seen to signify the loss in Joy’s life caused by Michael's death. On a deeper level, they can represent the vacuous emptiness Joy experiences in life as she struggles to find purpose and meaning.

Blank spaces

Blank spaces are used frequently to represent Joy experiencing mind blanks or drifting mentally. Galloway uses them to reflect when something happening that is too painful to describe as in the self-harming incident with the broken glass of water.

The largest blank space occurs when Joy attempts an overdose at the hospital. That Joy's suicide attempt failed is reflected when the single word oops appears three quarters of the way down a blank page.

Poetic style

Galloway’s style is often very efficient and to the point. This reflects Joy’s matter of fact way of thinking.

At other times Galloway's style is also very poetic. She often employs vivid metaphors to do with absence and empty space. During the ECT scan, Joy describes herself as:

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a black hole among the green stars

Her watch makes a gold halo on the towel at the scene of Michael’s death. The O imagery in the flashbacks signifies empty space. Finally, during the memorial service she reflects that:

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I didn’t exist. The miracle had wiped me out

All this adds to the sense of loss and absence Joy feels.