In life, one wonders at least once, if one is going insane. Sometimes these doubts may last for a second or sometimes for days. The feeling of losing one’s mind can be a result of stress, anger, nervousness, anticipation and most importantly how others are treating you.
Made famous by the Hitchcock movie, “The Lady Vanishes”, The Wheel Spins is a story of a young girl Iris, who believes she is going crazy, because everyone around her says that she is. Iris is on the way to England in a train. She is all by herself and cannot speak any foreign languages. Just before she boarded the train, she was hit by a sunstroke which has left her disoriented. An English lady, Miss Froy, who is in the same compartment as her, befriends her for tea. Iris dozes off and when she wakes up Miss Froy is no longer there. Iris is convinced that something is wrong but as she tries to ask her fellow passengers they tell her they don’t know what she is talking about – that there never was Miss Froy.
Up to this point, as a reader your sympathies are with Iris who is clearly being taken for a ride. She enlists the help of an English professor and appeals to his sense of morality and justice to help her locate this missing woman. When other English passengers who had talked to Miss Froy in the dining car deny her existence, you start wondering. Is Iris really delusional and sick as everyone around her claiming to be? What ulterior motives could the fellow passengers possible have for lying about Miss Froy.
White creates a very vivid imagery of the train journey. As Iris rushes back and forth the length of the train – trying to find her Miss Froy, we are able to sense the motion of the train, the claustrophobic corridors, the heat of the steam and the overpowering sense of restless passengers. White continuously refers to the noisy and almost fatal movement of the train into the darkness, which emphasizes the abyss of insanity that Iris appears to be falling into and the complete hopelessness of the situation.
For me the most impressive part about the book was not its writing or characters but the very simple concept – what defines insanity? If everyone around you calls you crazy, and there is no one to disprove that, then is there a any hope ?