Characters

Jinny

Characters Jinny

Jinny lives her life utterly apart from concerns about the soul. She thinks of herself as a body, first and foremost, interacting with other bodies. From the first moment we see Jinny, kissing Louis among the bushes, she is a creature of motion, surface, and physicality. More than once, Jinny compares herself to an animal and the social world in which she moves to a jungle, in which she is a huntress. She is aware of her own physical beauty, and her greatest pleasure is in being able to pick a man from the crowd and summon him with a gesture. It might sound from this description as though Woolf is being critical of Jinny, but Woolf presents Jinny’s perspective as radically honest and admirably direct. She is not an intellectual and prefers to relate to a world of physical objects rather than ideas, but she is neither stupid nor insensitive.

In her own way, Jinny is just as devoted to beauty and to her ideal of life as someone more obviously idealistic, such as Neville. On the dance floor, swept up in the communal whirl of bodies and music, Jinny feels unified with something larger than herself, something like the flow of life. The problem with Jinny’s ideal is that it cannot be sustained: music ends, beauty fades, and attractiveness withers with it. Neville, Louis, and Susan are each deeply concerned with making something that will last, and this, of course, Jinny cannot do—this is the great failing of Jinny’s way of life. Catching a glimpse of herself in a mirror, she sees that her hedonistic time is drawing to a close, but she does not despair. Death is simply part of the bargain, and her attitude is carpe diem—seize the day, and live while you can.