Spies - Michael Frayn Quotes

Social positions of Stephen and Keith

We're socially colour-coded for ease of reference.

Stephen allows Keith to undermine him

I reason slowly, so that Keith can overtake me and resume full control of the operation

Description of Stephen's physical state as a child

'undersized boy with the teapot ears...open-mouthed and credulous'

Repeated phrase about how often things change to Stephen

And everything in the world has changed beyond imagination or recall.

The older Stefan's opinion of his younger self

So...so unsatisfactory

Mr Hayward's attitude towards Stephen at the start of the book

because Stephen didn't exist

Colour imagery against Keith

he's entirely monochrome

Stephen's lack of direction in life

lost in some kind of vague daydream

Stephen feels indebted to Keith for their friendship

I was acutely aware, even then, of my incomprehensible good fortune in being Keith's friend.

Stephen's surprise at the Hayward's treatment of him

The Haywards were impeccable. And yet they tolerated Stephen!

Stephen has moral issues with some of Keith's actions

But if it's something private...

The two smiles of Keith and Barbara

I seem to be trapped between those two smiles - this one so large and unruly, that one so small and discreet, and yet as sharp as the edge of a sharpened blade." [Barbara - Keith]

Hint to Stephen's Jewish background

It's always said to be nice to stay in on a Friday evening, for some reason.

Stephen's distorted view of the dangers of war-life

Germans we might be able to deal with. These people we certainly can't.

Steph and Keith venture out of the safe confines of their neighbourhood

We're at the end of the world here.

Stephen enjoys the power he feels over the tramp because he's found someone he deems 'lower' than himself

He's scared. Scared of Keith, scared of me. He's that low in the table of human precedence. At once, after all my cowardice in the Lanes, I'm brave.

Sadistic side to Stephen's imagination

I can't help laughing at the thought. I can't wait to see the comical terror on the old man's face as he finally comes rushing out and we run off into the Lanes.

Growing up - breaking free from childhood

I have a sense of freedom, as if I'm no longer bound by the rules and restrictions of childhood...

Misguided sense of what really matters

Which is worse...To be embarrassed or to be killed?

Frayn - ironic humour over Stephen's heritage

But then I'm not a German!

Lamorna quote

Lamorna. A distant land across the sea, blue on the blue horizon. The sighing of the trees. The name of a song I once heard. There's just a little of the terror of the Lanes in it, too, and the silence under the elders.

Stephen stands up to Mr Hayward

This is the bravest and most shocking thing I've done in my entire life." [Standing up to Mr Hayward]

Mr Hayward's abuse of Mrs Hayward

And even in the extremity of my terror I suddenly realise where he learnt to practise this particular form of torture, and why his mother, in the heat of the summer, has taken to wearing that cravat pinned high on her neck.

They've been playing a game and it has come to an end

The game's finally over.

Older Stefan isn't in control of his understanding of the past

So how much did Stephen understand at this point about what was going on?

Stefan and Stephen are almost two different people

'the heir to Stephen's thoughts'

Leader and the led comment

He was the leader and I was the led. I see now that he was only the first in a whole series of dominant figures whose disciple I became.

Keith's words are the catalyst for the novel

I think now that most probably Keith's words came out of nowhere, that they were spontaneously created in the moment they were uttered. That they were a blind leap of pure fantasy. Or of pure intuition.

Keith mimics Mr Hayward

He smiles his father's thin smile.

Stephen allows Keith to be in charge

I humbly wait for Keith to announce what we're to think and what we're to do

Keith's fictional family of heroic and epic proportions

noble father and traitorous mother playing out the never-ending conflict between good and evil, light and dark.

Keith is God

He uttered the words and the words became so. He told the story, and the story came to life.

If Keith speaks, it is true, if Stephen does, it is not

If theories are to carry conviction, they have to be uttered in his voice, not mine.

Stephen is truly subservient to Keith

One of my tasks...is to prompt his imagination with useless suggestions.

Stephen believes Keith to be infinitely lucky

I think I feel a brief pang of admiring jealousy for yet another demonstration of his unending good fortune.

Stephen wants Keith to be impressed by him, just once

One single heroic deed, to lay at Keith's feet in the morning.

The attitude of most children towards Keith

Everyone except you really hates him

Elation you get from breaking free of childhood

a kind of soaring sensation

Keith mimics his father's mannerisms

Keith's eyelids have come down. His face is set and pitiless. He looks like his father.

Misguided comment about Keith's intellect

his authority was entirely warranted by his intellectual and imaginative superiority

Keith is heroic and strong

Every moment...is a further test of his strength, a further demonstration of his heroism

The danger of Keith's smile

[a thin smile] as sharp as the edge of a sharpened blade

Keith needs Stephen

Without me there's no one for him to be braver than

The effect of the six words

those six simple words that turned our world inside out

Mrs Hayward leaves the hideout

'Thank you for having me,' she says.

Mr Hayward meticulously works in his house

for ever making perfection ever more perfect

Mrs Hayward and perfection

All that perfection she arrived with has become blurred

The Haywards are godlike

The ways of the Haywards were no more open to questioning or comprehension than the domestic arrangements of the Holy Family

Mrs Hayward is inexplicably kind

incomprehensible niceness

Mrs Hayward's mannerisms

grace and serenity

Who's hunting who?

We both stop short, startled once again at the sight of each other, as disconcerted as a big-game hunter and a tiger coming unexpectedly face to face.

Mrs Hayward calmly deals with the situation

Oh, thank you," she says calmly, "aren't those the things you and Keith borrowed for your camp?

Mr Hayward's ogre state

like an ogre in his cave

Mr Hayward's menacing phrase

old bean

Mr Hayward begs

'Please,' he says, in a strange, small, urgent voice.
And I give in. Against this shameless and terrible word I can't hold out.

Mr Hayward's garage

wonderful private kingdom

Mr Hayward's speech style

his words were quick and dry and impatient

Stephen realises the truth about Mr Hayward

By some improbable stroke of kindly providence he's not my father.

Mr Hayward warns Stephen

Silly games. Don't play them.

The glow of Uncle Peter

We're there among all the others, transfigured like them by the golden light from the buttons, proud beneath the haughty stare of the eagle...

Uncle Peter is both there and not there

His very absence was a kind of presence.

Does Stephen know who the tramp is?

Did Stephen understand at last who it was down there in the darkness, when he heard his own name spoken?

Stephen's beginning to understand the truth about Uncle Peter

He was beginning to understand that he was a German who was entirely English

Germans to germs

His Germanness lingers in the air...as insanitary as the germs he's giving off.

Uncle Peter professes his love for Bobs

It was always her, you know. Always her. From the very beginning.

The sacred glow of Auntie Dee and Uncle Peter

Auntie Dee and even the untidiness itself glowed with a kind of sacred light, like a saint and his attributes in a religious painting, because they reflected the glory of Uncle Peter.

Auntie Dee is an 'ornament'

Auntie Dee was yet another amazing ornament of the Hayward family.

The nature of the Berrill girls

Everyone says they're running wild.

Barbara is a manipulative girl

Who's as sly and treacherous as most girls are.

Barbara's taken over 'their private place'

...and find our private place full of Barbara Berrill.

Smoking imagery

the cork tip is moist from her lips, like the flap of her purse.

Barbara is 'mocking' Stephen

Barbara's mocking smile is meaner than ever.

Barbara gives Stephen a real smile

Her big mocking smile vanishes. She gives me one of her little smiles instead.

Sweetly satisfying sound

The popper opens and closes with a sweetly satisfying sound.

Nature of Stephen's father

He often seemed like some mild-natured furry animal." [Stephen's Father]

Stephen's father gives helpful advice

You've got worse troubles than anyone's ever had before, I know" [Stephen's Father]

Mrs Wheatley's brusque actions

grabs", "marches", "demands" [Mrs Wheatley]

Mr Wheatley's calm and gentle nature

gently undoes his collar and examines his throat

Mr Wheatley's 'tenderness'

[washes the wound] with tenderness" [Mr Wheatley]

Mr Wheatley's camouflage

The presence of Stephen's father was scarcely noticeable.

Frayn's hint to the past about 'bullying'

I don't like bullying. I've seen too much of it in my lifetime.

The predictable nature of Stephen's family

Stephen's family...was quite extraordinarily ordinary.