“The Woman Who Walked Into Doors””The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” is a novel written by Roddy Doyle, set in Ireland in the early 1990 s. This story combines love and violence and shows how the two can go together in one marriage. The story is written like a diary of Paula Spencer’s good and bad memories in her life and gives the reader the impression that Paula is sharing her life story with us and she is also narrating her life as we read. The story begins with a prison guard arriving at Mrs Spencer’s door to give Paula the unfortunate news that her husband, Charlo has died. Then Paula explains the marital status between her and her husband, which is that they are separated.
She talks of their wedding, their children and then she moves on to talk of the savage attacks Charlo gave her. She tells of times when she was raped, battered and even more brutal, nearly killed. She told the doctors that she fell down the stairs or ‘walked into doors’ to justify her broken bones and bruises, because if she told them the truth, Charlo would hurt her, yet again. After seventeen years of too much pain and torture she received from him, she gives him a taste of his own medicine and throws him out of the house for good. Paula’s family has barely enough money to manage throughout the week but they struggle and live in a state of poverty. Paula’s marriage with Charlo goes from love to loveless and she becomes trapped within herself and she can’t do anything about it because she is so weak from her beatings.
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Paula Spencer (nee O’Leary) is the story’s main character, leads a very sad life in many ways. She was married to Charles, better known as Charlo for eighteen years and has four children, Nicola aged eighteen, John Paul aged sixteen, Leanne aged twelve and Jack aged five and is thirty nine years of age herself. Her fifth child died during pregnancy, no thanks to the brutal attacks she experienced. She has become a widow, and before her husband’s death, was separated from him. Her father died of cancer. She has three sisters, one of which is dead and three brothers.
Her mother is alive and well. Paula is an alcoholic and blames it on Charlo because of the horrendous way he treated her. To try and block this out she started drinking heavily. She fell deeper and deeper into the grip of alcoholism. She found it made her forget about reality and often made her feel calmer. However, she never drank until her children were in bed, thus sparing them the heartache of seeing their mother in such a drunken state.
She works as a cleaner, mainly in houses and she cleans an office building on Tuesdays. She hides her alcohol in the shed and throws the key into the garden until she needs it at night when she will go and find it. She is very proud of her children because they have helped her survive through the harder times. Her only main concern is the welfare of her children. She tells us that her favourite child is Jack, the youngest.
Her oldest son, John-Paul is living elsewhere and by the time he reaches sixteen, he is thought to be a heroin addict. All of her other children live with her and they try to be as normal a family as possible, even though they have all experienced pain from earlier experiences with Charlo. This novel is very interesting and gets the reader involved. However, it isn’t written very well. I think the structure is wrong because Roddy Doyle doesn’t write the story in order of events, he writes it in a way that is hard to understand as he jumps from year to year and often decade to decade. It could be argued that it does suit the novel, as it makes us feel Paula is talking to us and hasn’t planned what she will say and therefore doesn’t tell us the events in the correct chronological order.
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I found the story difficult to understand and feel comfortable with at first because of the jumps throughout the years in Paula’s life – it was hard to understand what was happening and when it took place. It’s not until the eighteenth chapter that we actually find about her and her life. I think the structure Roddy Doyle chose spoils this novel. For “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” to be successful, I think it should have to be read by adults and possibly mature adolescents because I don’t feel that anyone younger would understand the plot in the correct order with much ease. Once I understood the novel, I found it quite enjoyable and I thought it was a really good book. It was touching and emotionally a good read.
Eventually I got involved in the text and felt compassion for Paula when she was going through her extremely painful torment. The novel reaches out to the heart of the reader, or at least, it did mine, and this helps the novel to be successful. I found it very realistic and this is probably why I think the story appealed to me. Roddy Doyle has produced a great novel and an excellent read, showing how a loveless marriage really can destroy someone’s self-esteem, feelings and, most importantly, their life.