‘I might go out,’ said Vicki. ‘People’s parents never like me.’

‘My parents do,’ said Arthur.

‘Older parents, I meant,’ said Vicki.

‘They might wonder exactly what you’re doing here,’ said Arthur. ‘In our spare room.’

‘What do you think I’m doing here?’ He bent his smiling face over his work. ‘Well – you have to live somewhere, don’t you.’

‘Don’t you like me living here?’

He pulled the box of Derwents towards him and flipped back the lid. ‘I’m going through a period of self-conscience,’ he said. ‘I haven’t really thought about it?’

"conscience" mean "The moral sense of right and wrong, chiefly as it affects one's own behaviour."

Does "self-conscience" mean "thinking about ourselves carefully that if our behaviours and our acts is moral or not"

Source: The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

1 Answer 1


Perhaps the author is having the child try to use the term, "self-consciousness", and purposely have Andrew misuse it as "self-conscience". This is called a malapropism and can be a source for humor.

Richard Sheridan's play, "The Rivals", makes much use of malapropisms:

Mrs. MALAPROP: ... you will promise to forget this fellow—to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory.

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