Imagined Identities In Zoë Heller’s Notes On A Scandal

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Dr. Darryl Whetter Oct. 3/2012 ANGL1153 Student p.� PAGE �4� of � NUMPAGES �4�

"The Saucy School Teacher," Her "Spin-Doctor" And "The Red-Blooded Fifteen-Year-Old": Imagined Identities In Zoë Heller's Notes On A Scandal

by A. Helpful Student

Using the lies of Barbara Covett, Sheba Hart, and Steven Connolly, Zoë Heller's Notes On A Scandal establishes the desperation with which some people seek human company. As narrator, Barbara misleads herself, Sheba and, meta-fictionally, the audience in order to maintain the one friendship in her life. Sheba Hart, the criminal protagonist, lies to Richard, Barbara, and occasionally herself to sustain her connection to Steven. Steven, the fifteen-year-old victim, pursues Sheba with convenient half-truths in the beginning of their relationship. The intense need for companionship that the book demonstrates points to humanity's tendency to define itself through the company with which it associates.

Barbara is dishonest to the reader, herself, and Hart so as to preserve her friendship with Sheba, ultimately allowing her to label herself as Hart's confidante.

Because she is the meta-fictional narrator, Barbara holds a special privilege no other character in the book possesses: the ability to mould the story into her own words. She insists that "[She and Sheba] don't have secrets," (2) but it becomes clear that her narration is unreliable when she admits that she has "decided to keep [the manuscript] a secret" (9). Barbara overstates the trust in their relationship to make their connection seem stronger than it really is. She hopes she is Sheba's closest friend because she has no other real sense of identity (given that she has no friends or family with whom she connects). She maintains this delusion throughout her documentation, thinking at one point that Sheba's "high-spiritedness had something to do with [her]" (133). She wonders how Sheba will "ever...