This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

Dexter found, in a magazine, a photograph of the poet Tennyson, his wife and their two sons walking in the garden of their house on the Isle of Wight. To the modern eye it is a shocking picture: they are all, with the exception of the great man himself, bundled up in such enormous, incapacitating garments. Eye-lines: Tennyson looks into the middle distance. His wife, holding his arm and standing very close to his side, gazes up into his face. One boy holds his father’s hand and looks up at him. The other boy holds his mother’s, and looks into the camera with a weak, rueful expression. Behind them, out of focus, twinkles the windy foliage of a great garden. Their shadows fall across the lawn: they have just taken a step. Tennyson’s hands are large square paws, held up awkwardly at stomach level. His wife’s face is gaunt and her eyes are set in deep sockets. It is a photo of a family. The wind puffs out the huge stiff curved sleeve of the woman’s dress, and brushes back off his forehead the long hair of the father’s boy who is turned towards the drama of his parents’ faces.

Dose "drama" in this phrase mean "the way his parents are looking"? Is drama here metaphorical; does the whole sentence mean "It is like that the boy is looking at the drama that his parent are playing"?

  • 1
    See this answer for the photograph. Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 19:03
  • Yes I saw the photograph but I want to know the meaning of the drama? For example does it related to sad faces of his parent? Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


The photograph is this one:

Photograph of Alfred Tennyson with his family. The photo shows four individuals standing in a row on a lawn in front of an old ivy-covered house. Tennyson and his wife Emily are flanked by their sons Hallam and Lionel. Emily's face is turned toward Alfred. Hallam is seen in profile, looking up at his parents' faces.

Hallam is looking up at his parents' faces as though he is trying to understand what their expressions convey. He is thus like a spectator watching the actors in a drama. That is why Garner describes him as the boy who is turned towards the drama of his parents’ faces.

  • Many thanks. I have another question. It is written that "The wind puffs out the huge stiff curved sleeve of the woman’s dress" Dose "curved sleeve" is a model of sleeve or has wind made it to be in curved shape? I think it is a modle of sleeve that has not got tight cuff. Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:14
  • I don't know whether that's the name of a particular type of sleeve. Maybe it is. But even if it isn't, the line reflects the fact that the sleeve is cut in a curve. If it were cut differently then the wind would not blow it in a curve, I think.
    – verbose
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 16:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.