Text format

Galloway presents text in different ways that reflect different purposes for Joy, or different frames of mind in her thoughts.

Short sentences

Short sentences and non-sentences (sentences without a verb) simplify the narrative, and make it seem almost childlike in places:

I don’t know, doctor. I don’t know. Like Little girl lost. I make myself sick.

It can stress the regressive nature of depression that slows down her mind.


Conversations with anyone in power, the health visitor, doctors, Mr Peach, are structured as scripted dialogues. This emphasises the forced, fake, unsatisfactory nature of these interactions. Reducing these interactions to script portrays them almost as soap operas or cliches.

This reduces the characters to types playing a role rather than speaking personally. Imagining dialogue in this way perhaps helps Joy to feel less threatened and victimised.


Lists help Joy control information. They are a means of organising ideas in a simple way that she can follow easily and that helps her make sense of the world.

  • I have to go to work because
  • 1.it will be warmer than here
  • 2. “it brings home the bacon
  • 3. there will be people.


Italics separate flashbacks to Michael’s death from present events. They are doubly separate as they are indented on the page. They represent a different inner voice as Joy struggles to accept what has happened to Michael.

Capitalised words

Capitalised words suggest volume and insistence in the novel, and can convey Joy’s panic.

For example when Myra yells and batters the door the words look aggressive and threatening:


This helps give us a sense of Joy’s anxiety and intimidation.

Text in the margins

Throughout the novel, fragments of phrases occur outside the main body of the text, such as a number of variations on:

Sometime/that feeli/déjà vu

During Tony’s seduction, phrases occur in the margins at least six times, indicating Joy trying to escape the situation in her mind. The use of text in the margins indicates not only the narrator drifting off mentally during episodes, but on another level could represent a marginalisation of her thoughts by a society that does not fully understand her or her condition.

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