There is a fight scene involving Jenny and Robin at the end of the Squatters chapter. Snehal asked why it is necessary. I don’t know that I have anything like a complete answer but here are my thoughts.
In an earlier post I said I thought that Robin was trying to regain the innocence of childhood; she was, in effect, devolving back to childhood from adulthood. I think that is what the child, Sylvia, who mysteriously appears in that scene represents. That’s why she and Robin have such an immediate connection. Robin is drawn to her and, in a sense, takes control of her.
In the carriage, Jen, who is already in a near panic over the possibility of losing Robin, sees this connection and finds it unbearable. She lashes out at Robin. But it isn’t a fight at all; it is a violent, passionate, desperate act of love. Barnes can’t write a sex scene and still get the novel published. This “fight” is the closest she can get to the act of lovemaking between two women. I hesitate to call it a rape, but it certainly comes very close. Jenny “takes” Robin right there in the cab and they end up in a grotesque embrace with Jenny’s breasts covering Robin’s hands. When it’s over, the child speaks for Robin “Let me go! Let me go!”
Robin runs away but shortly after this event, she leavers Nora and goes away with Jenny. This more than anything else is what got me thinking about the fight as a metaphor for sex, rather than an actual fight.
I don’t quite know what to make of the English girl who is present during all of this. The best I can do right now is to suggest that she’s there as a cover, to make it appear that Robin’s interest is in an adult rather than a child. I know that's weak and I'd love to hear other ideas.