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The Mother Figure in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

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Sangha Gurpreet Sangha English 01B Jeanne Temple 10 July 2012 The Mother Figure In the novel Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, two young siblings names Ruth and Lucille discover themselves through their experiences that they have with the different types of guardians they have. This novel Housekeeping is narrated through the eyes of one of the sisters which is Ruth, who is the oldest out of both the sisters. Both Ruth and Lucille get abandoned by many members of their family such as an absent father, a mother went off a cliff, a grandmother who dies, and two aunts that rather stay in their own home in Spokane. But after all this, one of their aunts, Sylvie finally comes to watch over the two girls in their childhood home Fingerbone. Since the loss of their mother it caused the two girls to move around to various different women to take care of them. Both Ruth and Lucille seek to find themselves someone to be a mother figure in their lives, and they tend to believe that Sylvie can provide that for them. Abandonment is a huge them that is in every one of the characters while they continue to live with each other, and work together to become a family. ...read more.


and a loss of either one can have traumatic effects on one person. In some of the earliest literature found in the Near East ?the nature of the bond between mother and daughter is pictured as incomparably intense? (Ochshorn 5). This is evidence that mother/daughter relationships have substance outside of the feminist movement. Together, mothers and daughters connect with each other in a way that has powerful effects on each of their identities. It is clear that mother/daughter relationships in themselves are important to the development of young girls. A mother is someone who is thought to act as a role model for her children, but especially for her daughter(s). Being of the same gender, girls often look to their mothers to determine the proper way to act according to society. In general, children also expect to be nurtured by parents and mothers usually take this role most seriously. Because of this, the slightest mistake or unpopular decision made by the parent toward the child can leave a lasting impact. It seems then obvious that if a parent can be capable of such damage while still there for a child, the loss of a parent would have traumatic results. ...read more.


Sylvia is happy to be able to have this new relationship with her daughters and works to keep it. ?Edmond Foster?s death brings a new intimacy between Sylvia and her daughters, as if finally, without the father, the daughters have finally recovered their mother? (Aldrich 309). Discovering your own identity is a struggle that many young girls go through as they grow, and without any guardians to provide examples, this struggle is only magnified. Missing their mother to act as a model figure, Ruth and Lucille, of Marilynne Robinson?s Housekeeping, find their own identities by finding new mother figures to connect with. Despite the different journeys the girls undertake, by the end of the novel they both seem to have progressed to a point where they each appear comfortable. There is no ending to the quest for identity, as many people are still finding their own. However, in finding new mother figures the sisters are able to learn more about themselves and be happy with what they have learned. For being described as freshly abandoned children in the beginning of the story, we tend discover that by the end of the novel Ruth and Lucille have more complete characters and stronger individuals. ...read more.

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