The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook Imagery

London at Night

In the scene where Ella goes to the party where she will first meet Paul, she describes passing through London using vivid imagery. Ella finds the city ugly, dark, and alienating, noticing "For miles in all directions, this ugliness, this meanness" (pg. 176). The imagery is used to convey the way in which Ella views the contemporary world. Although the city is huge and well-populated, she does not feel any connection to anyone who lives there. The imagery also reflects Ella's economic position: when she is driven home later that night in Paul's car, she has a totally different impression of the city. The imagery suggests that the way someone experiences a place is filtered through the lens of their socioeconomic position.

Strawberries and Wine

At the start of the novel, as Anna and Molly wait for Richard to arrive, they eat strawberries and wine in Molly's apartment. The narrator uses lush imagery to describe the pleasing sights, smells, sounds, and tastes the two women experience. This imagery highlights how a small, everyday moment can generate a lot of pleasure. It also lays the groundwork for contrast later on: this early imagery leads a reader to believe that the two women live happy, uncomplicated lives where they can easily experience pleasure; it will later be revealed that they both struggle and face unhappiness. Readers have not yet learned that Richard's second wife is an alcoholic, nor that Tommy is suicidal and depressed; so, this imagery creates a false sense of security on the surface of the lives of these two women.

Anna Preparing Dinner for Michael

Several times in the novel, such as when she decides to write down exactly everything that happens to her in a day, Anna describes herself buying and preparing food so that she can serve dinner to Michael. Detailed imagery is used to show the painstaking care Anna puts into these efforts, which communicates to the reader how much she loves Michael how hard she tries to make his life pleasant and easy. The imagery of Anna shopping and cooking is significant because it shows her in a very traditional female role even though she rejects many other aspects of traditional femininity. Anna's pleasure and pride shows that she wants to make her lover happy and that she is happier satisfying someone else than doing intellectual work such as writing her novel.

Anna's Dream of the Map

Many of Anna's dreams are described using very vivid imagery, which shows that, in some ways, Anna's inner life is more real to her than what she experiences of the external world. She describes in the red notebook a dream she has in 1954 while sleeping next to Michael one night. She dreams of a map of the world in which red fabric, representing Communist ideology, is slowly spreading out. The dream is described using vivid and sensual imagery so as to make readers feel that they are experiencing this vision alongside Anna. The lush and pleasurable imagery of this dream shows that at this moment, Anna's political ideology is bringing her a sense of comfort, stability, and hope. The experience of the dream and the political beliefs are also connected to her relationship with Michael: because she has him, she feels confident about these other aspects of her life.