One of the central themes of “Challenge” is the idea of class and social status. Julian and Eve come from very different backgrounds, and their relationship challenges the norms of English society at the time. Julian’s family is part of the aristocracy, and they view themselves as superior to those in lower social classes. Eve, as a working-class girl, is seen as inferior and not a suitable match for Julian.
Sackville-West portrays the prejudices of the upper classes towards those in lower social classes, and the constraints that this places on relationships. She highlights the ways in which class status can limit individual freedoms and choices. However, she also shows the power of love to transcend societal barriers and bring people together, regardless of their social status.
Another theme that runs throughout the novel is the idea of individuality and self-expression. Julian, despite his privileged upbringing, has a rebellious streak and is not content to simply conform to societal expectations. He wants to be his own person and make his own choices, even if it means going against his family’s wishes.
Similarly, Eve is a strong and independent woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and challenge the norms of her society. She refuses to be defined by her social status and strives to live life on her own terms. Through Julian and Eve’s characters, Sackville-West celebrates individuality and the importance of staying true to oneself, even in the face of opposition.
Another noteworthy aspect of “Challenge” is Sackville-West’s exploration of gender and sexuality. Julian’s sister, Veronica, is portrayed as a sexually liberated woman who rejects societal norms of femininity and female submissiveness. Her character challenges traditional gender roles and highlights the ways in which gender is constructed and performative.
Sackville-West’s portrayal of gender and sexuality was ahead of its time, and her frank discussions of these issues may have been controversial for the time period in which the novel was written. However, her willingness to tackle these issues head-on has contributed to the novel’s enduring appeal.
In conclusion, “Challenge” is a novel that explores the complexities of love and the ways in which societal expectations can limit individual freedoms and choices. Sackville-West’s lyrical prose and richly drawn characters make the novel a joy to read, while her exploration of class, individuality, and gender adds depth and nuance to the story. Overall, “Challenge” is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.