“There but for the” By: Ali Smith

“There but for the” By: Ali Smith


This interesting and captivating novel, “There but for the” by: Ali Smith had an example of how women occupied the space of London. This novel is of a newer based time frame, so the woman, Anna, in the novel has more rights than some other women in other novels like in “The Emperors Babe”. In this novel on page 36 of the “There” chapter, Anna describes her work place and how she did not enjoy it whatsoever. Unfortunately the decision to keep a job differs to people of different class. Anna needed the money, so that fact would alter her decision on if she would keep her job or not. On page 36 it states, “I bet you are broke because of the recession, or are you a student or a post-graduate? No, I had a job but I gave it up, Anna said, because the job I had was rubbish.” “In my job I had to make people matter not so much. That was what my job really was, though ostensibly I was there to make people matter.” I believe Anna here s describing a therapist or physiologist job she once had in the past. Since there was a recession going on, Anna most likely needed to be working to have some money to survive.

Here Anna was occupying the working space of London with the working class. She then goes on into further detail about the job she had on page 37, “This was what my job was. First, I had to get people to talk to me about stuff that happened to them, usually pretty horrible. That’s why they were having to tell me in the first place, so that I could help them. Then, because there was pressure on me, I had to put pressure on them, to fit these true stories, their whole life stories in some cases, on just two-thirds of one side of, do you know what A4 is?” I believe that this passage shows how women of the century have much more choice in what they want to be studying and what fields they want to be working in. I believe this shows that women are more independent in society and not as dependent on a man because of restrictions they faced in the past.

Another quote on the same page states, “But they told me how good I was at the job, then they gave me a promotion which meant I would make more money. But my new job was to make people redundant, the one’s who were doing my old job and weren’t good enough at getting peoples stories to be less long. So, in the end, I left.” This shows the power a woman has that she can actually make her own professional and educational choices in her life. On page 42 it talks about when Anna was 18 and coming home from the University. This shows how Anna was involved in her own life goals in London. Anna’s personal views and goals are accepted in this century of London. These passages describe that women are treated with more respect toward their aspirations and decisions they make in their lives.


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