Blood Brothers: key quotations
“did you never hear how the Johnstones died” – narrator in the opening scene. It establishes the play as having some features of a tragedy and gives an air of inevitability to the outcome that hangs over the narrative, creating foreboding.
“the mother, so cruel, there’s a stone in place of her heart” – narrator before we meet Mrs Johnstone. We are invited to judge her and dislike her, so that her likeable persona is a surprise. It raises the question of moral dilemma: it’s not always easy to distinguish good from evil.
“He told me I was sexier than Marilyn Monroe” – female sexuality/vulnerability. (Remember that MM is a motif used throughout the play).
“By the time I was twenty-five, I looked like forty-two” – Mrs J. has had a hard life.
“I’m up to here with hard luck stories” – (Milkman) – the area is one of poverty and society is uncaring about their difficulties.
“during the dance, she acquires a brush, dusters and a mop” – stage directions and props used to show Mrs J’s role as Mrs L’s cleaner.
“never put new shoes on a table” – Mrs J: she is superstitious and it creates a sense of foreboding.
“give one to me” – Mrs L speaks with authority, using an imperative.
“how can you possibly avoid some of them being put into care?” – Mrs L uses her working class status against her, as a way of manipulating her into giving up the baby.
“silver trays to take meals on” / “a bike with both wheels on” – the juxtaposition of the two mothers singing together shows the different expectations that they have, to reflect their middle class/working class status.
“Mrs Lyons shows the Bible to Mrs Johnstone” – she knows that she is religious, so manipulates her.
“a debt is a debt, and must be paid” – the narrator compares Mrs J ignoring her promise to give away one of the babies to her tendency to order things on credit from a catalogue, only to find that she hasn’t the money to pay when the time comes.
“The house is your domain… I really must dash” – Mr Lyons is not very supportive of his wife. Her role is limited to being a wife, a mother and running the household.
“You’ll be locked up” – again, Mrs Lyons uses Mrs Johnstone’s fear of authority figures to manipulate her into leaving the baby when she is sacked.
“You do know what they say about twins, secretly parted” – Mrs Lyons makes up a superstition to manipulate Mrs J. It actually comes true, though, making us aware that Mrs L bears some responsibility for the events, as well as Mrs J.
“the devil’s got your number” – the narrator’s refrain, which creates foreboding. His presence always indicates something bad is happening/about to happen.
“mam” / “mummy” “pissed off” / “you say smashing things” – Edward and Mickey speak very differently when they first meet, but they are shown to have a lot in common “the two of them immediately wriggle and giggle with glee”.
“we’re blood brothers” – the pact (and their fate) is sealed/
“the bogey man” / “the sort of thing a silly mother might say” – difference in class and parenting styles.
“don’t you ever come round here again” / “I’m very sorry, but it’s Edward’s bedtime” – parallel scenes juxtaposed to show that they have similar personalities and lives, despite being separated.
They are fated to be drawn to each other “if you cross your fingers and if you count from one to ten” – the children play with pretend guns innocently, but it foreshadows the real shootings later in the play, when the death is irrevocable.
“Leave him alone!” – even as a child, Linda always defends Mickey.
“Peter Pan” – this is the statue that they shoot at in the park. The character is a symbol of eternal childhood; shooting at him with an air rifle suggests that their childhood innocence will not last forever.
“It’s just… just this place” – as time moves on, Mrs Lyons’ mental state deteriorates (as shown by her fragmented syntax).
“For God’s sake, Jennifer” – Mrs Lyons is not very emotionally supportive.
“he was about to commit a serious crime” / “it was more of a prank, really” – the policeman’s description of the kids trying to throw stone through a window. Once again, the parallel structure of the scenes highlights the different treatment of middle class and working class children.
“She removes a locket from around her neck” – Mrs J gives Edward a token of her affection; it symbolises the connection between them that cannot be broken.
“never look at one magpie” – Edward is superstitious, highlighting the connection between him and Mrs J.
“bright new day, we’re goin’ away” – Mrs J sings a cheerful song, showing her optimism about moving. However, it comes just after the Lyons family have moved, so we suspect that they are going to end up in the same place (foreboding).
“Sammy burnt the school down” – Sammy is a troublemaker (foreshadowing).
“could I take you dancing?” – the Judge is lenient towards Sammy because he is attracted to Mrs Johnstone. It shows women being treated as sex objects and also the corruption of the authority figures in the play.
Sammy “produces a knife” – again, foreshadows his troubling influence and violent tendencies.
“This is a boys’ school, Lyons” – Edward gets in trouble for wearing his locket. It again shows the bullying/corruption of authority figures.
“take a flying f**k at a rolling donut” / “it’s borin’” – Edward and Mickey are both suspended from school, emphasising the continuing parallels in their lives.
“Gis a ciggie?” – like when he asks Edward for sweets the first time they met.
“I’m talking thousands if you want” – Mrs Lyons tries to ‘buy off’ Mrs Johnstone again, when she realises that they are living near each other again.
“I’d buy more junk and trash” – Mrs J has changed and learned not to try to take comfort in material possessions.
Mrs Lyons “has a lethal-looking kitchen knife in her hand” – she has lost her sanity by this stage.
“I curse you! Witch!” – Mrs L to Mrs J. Yet more fate and superstition.
“a game of piggy-in-the-middle” –the stage directions show them playing an innocent game and having fun as teenagers, but it foreshadows Linda being stuck between the two men when she has an affair.
“workin’ overtime” / “I go away to university tomorrow” – the boys’ lives start to diverge when they reach 18 (adulthood).
“it’s a sign of the times, Miss Jones” – Mr Lyons makes people redundant in a very matter-of-fact way, not caring how it affects their lives. Liverpool had high levels of unemployment in the 1980s and many people lived in poverty.
“walkin’ round in circles” – the working classes are trapped in a circle of poor education, unemployment and poverty, but society does very little to help them.
“I’d crawl back to that job for half the pay and double the hours” – Mickey is bored and feels worthless after he loses his job. He feels inadequate as a man, because he cannot provide for Linda.
“I grew up. An’ you didn’t, because you didn’t need to” – Mickey to Edward. Life is hard for the poor people in society, but Edward has always had everything taken care of for him.
“Look at y’, Mickey. What have y’ got?” – Sammy encourages Mickey to commit a crime with him. He agrees, because he has no job and low self-esteem.
“chronically depressed” – Mickey in jail.
“I’ve got Mickey a job” – Linda takes the initiative when Mickey gets out of jail. Edward helps her.
“You sorted it out. You and Councillor Eddie Lyons” – Mickey is bitter and his self-esteem is lower than ever.
Mickey is under “strain”, but is shown on stage making a big effort not to take his pills.
“the music pulsates and builds” – Russell uses stage directions to create drama as Mickey is looking for the gun, after finding out about the affair.
“There’s a mad man” – Mickey has gone mad after finding out about the affair. The narrator turns up to tell us this – a bad omen , as ever.
Edward is “on a platform” – the stage directions make him seem powerful, as an authority figure (councillor) but also vulnerable, as he stands out for Mickey to shoot at him.
“How come you got everything… an’ I got nothin’?” – Mickey, to Edward.
“I could have been him!” – Mickey.
“Do we blame superstition for what came to pass? Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?” – the narrator, after the shootings.
“Did you ever hear the story of the Johnstone twins, as like each other as two new pins” – the play ends with the narrator repeating what he said at the start. This cyclical structure highlights the inevitability of the twins’ fate.