Study Guide

Life After Life Prejudice

By Kate Atkinson

Prejudice

"Jews?" Bridget said, screwing up her plain features in distaste. (6.77)

As someone who is a little bit different (Bridget is an Irish maid in an English household), you'd think she'd be more sympathetic.

"Jewish," Sylvie said in the same voice she would use for "Catholic"—intrigued, yet unsettled by such exoticism. (6.92)

Since the Todds don't really have to deal with people of different skin colors or races, they have to find other things to be prejudiced against, like different religions.

"That the Hun for you. They don't care who they kill. They're wicked, so they are. They eat Belgian babies." (6.137)

A lot of baby-eating rumors get spread during the war, the result of a general ignorance about other cultures, which leads to an increased fear of them when conflict breaks out.

"And as for you, Maurice," Bridget continued, "you're little more than a savage." (8.2)

Bridget would probably be a big fan of the Washington Redskins. Classy.

Even now, after everything people learned about the camps and so on, anti-Semitism was still rife. (18.31)

Not even mass genocide can keep some people from being prejudiced against Jewish people. Can anything change a prejudiced person's mind?

"Gypsies," Mrs. Glover concluded, which was pretty much what she considered all foreigners to be. (20.182)

Mrs. Glover is the lazy kind of prejudiced person—she can't even be bothered to think of specific things to hate, she just dislikes anything "different."

"Hey, darkie music," Howie said. (20.202)

Howie is so charming in many ways, isn't he? He's later revealed to be a Hitler sympathizer, which isn't surprising at all.

"Jews aren't necessarily foreign, though, are they? The Coles next door are Jewish." (20.669)

For many of her lives, Ursula doesn't pursue her affection for Benjamin Cole. We have to wonder if it's because of the subtle (well, sometimes not-so-subtle) prejudice her family has against Jewish people… or for anyone different from them.

In Bridget's romantic novels, Italians were always dashing but untrustworthy. (25.345)

Not that we should be looking to romance novels as signs of morality, but this kind of stereotyping seems to be common all over the place, not just in genre fiction, at this time.

"Well, I think your mother would have me killed," Ben said. ("A Jew?" [Ursula] imagined Sylvie saying.) (26.164)

Maybe Sylvie's prejudice isn't so secret and subtle after all. Even Benjamin Cole knows that Ursula's mother has something against him, even though she seems to be nice to the family to their faces.