Harry Lavender Language

Language #

In the romantic parts Day tends to exaggerate and the result is sometimes humorous. Consider Claudia’s statement to Steve at their first encounter:

Maybe sometime you could tell me how the heart works. The head, I know all about that, but the heart and its motivations are infinitely intriguing.’ (p. 28)

At their next meeting, note the contrast between what Claudia actually says and what she thinks, but shares with the reader:

I’ll slip into something a little more comfortable. Like your bed (p. 79)

Overall, the language of the novel is colourful and strongly colloquial. Expressions like ‘As long as I didn’t start haemorrhaging from the eyes things would be all right’ (p. 2) and ‘I was in a slack period, doing insurance surveillance and boring the pants off myself (p. 3) establish this style immediately. However, in the scenes with Steve the language is particularly slick. Consider the interchange about Claudia’s private life when Steve asks if she has a husband or children. Claudia’s response is:

‘One of the former and two of the latter. And the former is former.’


‘Isn’t everyone? It’s history now. My husband remarried: nice country girl content with what she’s got.’ (p. 27)

(a) What might this indicate about Claudia and about language?

(b) Collect examples of expressions which convey Claudia’s personality.

Claudia Valentine’s Phrasing

Claudia speaks in the manner of a hard-boiled worldly wise Private Investigator  (P.I.).

slick, glib, swaggering, at times sassy (cheeky) and sometimes tongue in cheek.

*“Live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse” *(22)

“I was changing cars more often than I changed my underwear” (101)

But it’s one

It’ll be dead end if you don’t. Now move” (162)

Word Play Double entendre (meaning)

“It must have been a plant.” “A lavender plant.” (126)

Terminal illness” (6, 17, 20,

Alter, (141…

curse, cursor (143… heart ( 55,

“waiting for the developers to give them a new lease of life, or maybe just a new lease.” (69)

Humour “wit”

“I wait for bald men to pass by and drop ash on their heads (23)

one of the former and two of the latter, and the former is former” her reply to Steve regarding her marital status. ( 27)

“You put it away, Otto, you don’t know where it’s been.”

*“That’s the trouble,” he moaned, it hasn’t been anywhere lately. *(53)