Bainbridge, Beryl. The Bottle Factory Outing.
- Freda (26): British; 190cm, 108kg; well dressed, make-up; actoress castings.
- Brenda (32): British; thin; from a good family, marries a rude man, whom she leaves; does not care how she looks like.
- Vittorio: Italian; rich cousin of Mr. Paganotti who owns the bottle factory.
- Rossi: Italian; ”lover” of Brenda
- Patrick: Irish; admirer of Brenda
- Stanley Haddon: husband of Brenda
Freda meets Brenda at the butcher's where Brenda cries over her husband. Freda hires a flat and makes Brenda live with her. She finds for them a job in the bottle factory because she wants to get close to the plainly living people. They are not rich either. Brenda is an introvert shy woman who was brought up to be very polite and never saying what she really means. On contrary, Freda is extrovert and often tries to make Brenda have fun and go out. However, she is not too successful. Brenda always sleeps in all her clothes and builds a pile of books in the middle of the bed, she does not want Freda to get intimate with her.
The bottle factory where they work belongs to an Italian man who brought some workers from his country to England. They were originally working on the land, were very poor and they are extremely thankful to Mr. Paganotti for his giving them good work and better conditions than they had in Italy. They were working in hard conditions, the factory was very cold, in winter it was freezing there. Freda sometimes tried to agitate and explain to the workers that it was against the law to work in such conditions but they never understood what she meant. Most workers did not understood English well in addition to it.
Rossi, one of the workers, was always tempting Brenda to go with him into the cellar or to any other hidden place and wanted to make love to her. Brenda was unable to say no because of the rules she had to follow according to what her parents taught her. Brenda was trying to make Freda save her from Rossi and watch her when she had to leave her working place and follow Rossi. However, Freda was always talking with Maria and never noticing Brenda going away. She turns Brenda's trouble into fun and tells her that it is herself only who is causing her troubles and that she was born to be a suffering victim when she behaves like this.
Freda plans a trip for the factory workers and she is looking forward to it very passionately. She hopes she would get closer to Vittorio with whom she has fallen in love. She sees it all in the brightest colours. Brenda is pessimistic and she is afraid the trip will not be so nice as Frenda believes.
The microbus that Freda ordered does not arrive, and Freda gets very angry. She gets angry very easily, sometimes she behaves like a man in a way that the others are a bit frighted by her. Finally some workers have to leave for home, disappointed, and Brenda feels very sorry with them, not wanting to go to the trip. The others are put into the cars and they set off. They stop outside the city, by the highway with heavy cars passing by all the time. Freda does not like the place. The workers are playing football, they would never admitt that they do not like something about the trip. Freda suggests going to the castle and seeing its gardens and all. She sits with Vittorio on the bench and she is happy with him. Vittorio does not share her enthusiasmus because he is going to engage another girl related to Rossi. Freda does not know about it and she hears only what she wants to hear. The group from the other car manages to find them in the castle and in a chapel Rossi gets into the fight with Freda. Vittorio does not come to help her. Freda is angry with him.
All the workers turn back to the barbecue place, the men are playing football, the girls are eating. Freda goes for a walk to the forrest, she hopes Vittorio will join her. He does not. She finds out she is not alone and suddenly she is hit by a stone on her face. She gets angry and throws a stone to the direction where she thinks the enemy is. She hits him but she does not know who it is. She turns back in a bad mood. Suddenly black horses come to the place, they are Queen's funeral horses, as the men who are with them say. Freda invites them to join the barbecue and they offer her, Vittorio, and Rossi to have a ride. Freda is happy about it because it was the second time she saw the black horses. It is good because Maria prophetized her this image and also a way and a man and a white dress. Freda rides the horse with enthusiasmus and feels that Vittorio looks at her and admires her.
Turning back, Freda gets into an argument with Brenda and leaves for the bush to be alone. Brenda is sorry with her suddenly. Rossi goes to find Freda and turns back white and looking terribly. He seems to be very sick and gets into the car. Brenda believes he had an argument with Freda and that Freda told him something unpleasant and rude. She tries to calm him down. Rossi has also an argument with Vittorio and Brenda can see they are arguing about the broken watches of Rossi. Originally they argued about Rossi's wish for Vittorio to take Freda to the forrest because he wants to take Brenda somewhere too. Vittorio rejects.
Brenda goes to the bushes and tries to find Freda. She finds her laying on her back - dead. Nobody from the workers wants to call the police or an ambulace. To those who does not know yet, they pretend Freda is alive and that she ist just blue. Nobody wants to say what happened, some believe Rossi killed her but Rossi and others believe it was Patrick. He spent a lot of time in the forrest and when he turned back, he was hurt on his eye by Freda's stone, probably. Rossi's broken watches, on the other hand, would point to him as a murderer.
Finally all the workers decide to get rid of Freda in such a way that they would put her into one of the barrel and sign it as broken. The barrel would cross the state lines and would be thrown into sea. At the end Rossi decides to tell the truth. He says he went to see Freda and to make love with her. Freda did not want to and as she was refusing, she slipped and broke her nape. Rossi slipped, too, and fell down to Brenda's stomach. He broke his watches.
The reader finds out that it was Vittorio who made it so that the microbus did not arrive because he did not want to go to the trip. He thought that the trip will not happen. The workers are such a closed community that the reader cannot be sure if what Rossi says is really true or if it is only an evidence of solidarity to avoid problems with police which many workers had before for some fighting or such minors offences. Brenda also knew that the police could be really dangerous and unpleasant, they were asking in such a way that nobody could be really sure about anything. She met police when Freda invited Vittorio to their flat and wanted to corrupt him and get him into the bed. But Vittorio proved his impotence at that moment. Meanwhile Brenda was with Patric upstairs where he was fixing the toilett. Stanley's mother came to see Brenda and was trying to shoot her. She did not manage because the men prevented her from doing it. Police came and was asking unpleasant questions.
But Brenda still thinks about the argument between Rossi and Vittorio and Vittorio pointing to Rossi's broken watches. She leaves to her parents and pretends that Freda has gone to Spain. Breda's husband has found another woman, so she cannot come back to him. Freda in the barrel is put into the van and with the artifical flower on it she leaves for other world.
- Freda dies in the middle of the novel, not at the end which is relatively open
- the author develops the motifs of the characters' behaviour which at first seems to be completely weird and against all the logical rules but at the end the reader finds out that it is probably the best way how to behave in such a situation
- motif of an unlucky accident which leads to completely crazy solutions and situations
- plainly living figures, quite common, usual; ordinary story which suddenly develops to some kind of a detective or thriller
- commedy of manners, grotesque figures
- at first very common, surprising turning point and the end
AuthorBainbridge, Beryl. (b. 1932).
Full TitleThe Bottle Factory Outing.
First PublishedLondon: Duckworth, 1974.
Bainbridge, Beryl. The Bottle Factory Outing. (1974). London: Penguin, 1992.