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First assignment of a characterization of Maureen February 25, 2007

Posted by gruelli in Characters, Maureen.

She is probably the most different character in comparison to the other three characters of Nick Hornby’s novel “A long way down”. Maureen is a middle-aged and very quiet woman who has to bear a heavy burden. Actually she hadn’t live for almost twenty years now because she gave away her life. And the reason for that is her disabled son who can’t neither walk, talk nor recognize anything that is going on in the world around him. Maureen has to look after him night and day and you probably can imagine that she really is in pain (she even takes anti-depressants!).

It seems as if Maureen hadn’t been in contact with many people since Matty’s birth. When she says that he ruined her life you can see how desperate she must be. And although her most longing desire and also the only reason for her to go on any further, that Matty would die, sounds really cruel it makes you understand how this person is suffering inwardly. Furthermore Maureen has the problem that she cannot express her feelings which makes things even worse.On the one hand because the long years of loneliness and isolation have made her very reserved and on the other hand because she does not even want to feel this hate and aggression in her. Maybe especially because Maureen is believing she feels even more responsible and has a certain sense of duty. But the worst thing for her is not even to have the responsibility for a disabled child but the fact that she has the feeling that her life did not move on since Matty’s birth. That she just lives her life for him, every single day it is the same thing and there seems to be no point in that, no hope that there will ever be something else. That is the reason why she wants to kill herself – because she does not see any reason anymore and nothing that would hold her back although, of course, it is not easy for her to leave her son. When she meets Martin, Jess and JJ you can see one more time that these years of pain and despair have made her even more older. It sounds very old-fashioned, for example, that she thinks that JJ was gay for he has long hair and is an American. Moreover, she does not know so much about Martin as everyone else seems to do and she cannot understand the typical teenage behaviour, the slangy language and the “modern” way of life of Jess. And she feels that she does not belong to this world, although her son would be at the same age as Jess is now. Because Maureen is very reserved she does not really talk too much to the others and you can see that she does not feel very comfortable most of the time (at least at the beginning!). But probably she is used to make pictures of the others, does not talk but thinks about it for herself. Though she once says that she wishes that she could speek as straightforward as they do. It is difficult to say but I think at the beginning Maureen has the closest relationship to Martin. Probably because he is more at her age than the others are. But maybe even Jess who is actually the complete opposite of Maureen is the one person who seems to understand Maureen most and she notices this. Maureen also recognizes that she actually wants to have a life for her to live. And she decides to go with the others. Maybe also because she recognizes that she feeels good in some way being with the others just because she now has the chance to do something totally different and to break out of her old life – at least for a little while.



1. Steven - February 21, 2008

Hi there,

my name is Steven and I read the novel at school. We also wrote a characterization about Maureen, so I have got a good comparison to yours.

First of all I have to say that you did your job very well and I agree with your version in most points. But there is one thing I stumbled over. You said the following:

“But the worst thing for her is not even to have the responsibility for a disabled child but the fact that she has the feeling that her life did not move on since Matty’s birth.“

This sentence is not a fact and actually not told in the book the way you describe it. Furthermore Maureen has a disabled son who, in your words, “…can’t neither walk, talk nor recognize anything that is going on in the world around him.“ Because of that reason alone I think that Matty is very hard to deal with. His disability is depicted rarely in the book. For example if you may have such a disabled child you also wouldn’t have any time for your friends or for your free- time. Otherwise you must disregard your child.
Another question you tried to answer in your characterization is the question of the relationship between Maureen and the other main characters. You said that Jess is the one who has the closest relationship to Maureen. I don’t think that way. The main characters tries to get access to her own private life by visiting her, but she rejected and don’t want them to come. The fact that Jess tells Maureen that she would kill Matty if Maureen wants to start a new life is not a reason for their relationship.
But coming back to your characterization and to the well done things, you structured your characterization in a very reasonable way so that your draws of consequences are comprehensible. Your language and the knowledge of your vocabulary is very distinctive. That makes the characterization very detailed and easy to read. I will recommend your characterization of Maureen, because you get an overall but very detailed overview about Maureen’s life and her environment.

Sincerely yours


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