This passage is an extract of Free Fall by William Golding, which describes a particular character he had met in his childhood. This character is Miss Rowena Pringle who is a teacher in the school where the narrator studied. From the beginning itself, we are exposed to a set of descriptions of Miss Pringle which allows us to picture her at that particular time. The very first line of this extract shows that she is very religious and certainly experienced teacher.
The narrator’s first physical description of her shows that she is somehow troubled as the choice of words such as “Sandy hair”, “sandy moustache” and “beard” and to which this can be confirmed is the use of the word “spinster” as for a woman who has never married must surely be lacking something. This can also mean that the narrator had some issues with Miss Pringle as “spinster” is rather a cruel word to use.
We also see that there is a tension between Miss Pringle and the narrator because he was adopted by the man who was supposed to marry her. So basically here it is possible to state that the reason for Miss Pringle being a “spinster” is due to the narrator himself as he says “and who was slowly going mad”. The use of the word mad can act as an allegory and can imply that she is very angry with her situation or also that she cannot adapt to the world around her.
Thus, it can be said that she probably did have a high expectation from the narrator’s father. This issue of her relationship can be one of the reasons due to which she turned out like a perfectionist, casting her out of normal world. Her behavior demonstrates she is rhypophobic that is the fear of filth or dirt. The words used to describe her reaction towards perfection are “exquisite nimmy-pimmy lady-like air”. This is showed when she had a blot of ink on her finger.
It is very hysterical the way she reacted to this situation as her hand agitated like “lily-white octopus”. There is personification of the octopus being the fingers of Miss Pringle. This can signify that her hands are delicate and the use of white can also emphasize on the obsession of cleanliness. The clothes she wore were of brown tones, which could signify dullness in her life and does not want anyone to approach her. It can be seen that the narrator uses the effect of color to describe her visibi.