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In this paper I will try to analyze the complex character of Fenstad's Mother and show the changes and the consistencies in her character throughout the story.

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Fenstad's mother by Charles Baxter In this paper I will try to analyze the complex character of Fenstad's Mother and show the changes and the consistencies in her character throughout the story. At first, Fenstad's Mother's character is revealed to us at the beginning of the story as a very practical woman who was preoccupied by social activities, social rights, and religion has never interested her, she is amused by her son's churchgoing and even makes fun of him because of it: "Fensad's mother was a lifelong social progressive who was amused by her son's churchgoing" (p. 115), ""Skating after church? Isn't that some sort of doctrinal error?" (p. 116). She is a perceptive person. It took her only a short glance to reveal Fenstad was skating (the stain of snow on his trousers): "She glanced down at his trousers, damp with melted snow. "You've been skating." (p. 116). Even though she is an elderly woman, she is still a strong and an independent person: "Quickly he checked her apartment for any signs of memory loss or depression. He found none and immediately felt relief. The apartment smelled of soap and Lysol, the signs of an old woman who wouldn't tolerate nonsense." ...read more.


(p. 117) She is eager to learn new things and to be exposed to as many ideas as possible: "You should expand my horizons" (p. 117), "Thanks for the adventure, Harry. I do appreciate it. What're you doing in class next week?" (p. 121), or when Follette introduces her to Jazz: "York is explaining to me about Art Tatum and jazz. Next week he's going to try something more progressive on me." (p. 125). The first change in the character of Fenstad's mother is when she said to Fenstad: "I want to get out...You should expand my horizons. Take me somewhere". (p. 117). While speaking to Fenstand, she meant it literally and yet, it is a challenge for her to get out of her closed world, trying new things she never let herself experiencing before. She spontaneously accepts her Son's offer to join him in his evening class where he teaches adults. She is a stylish woman and she has a classic taste, but when she goes to the composition class she becomes more down to earth, her stylish outfit (Classic dark-blue overcoat) is "broken" by the red earmuffs she put on to protect her ears from the freezing weather: "dressed in a dark blue overcoat - her best. ...read more.


The people feel that she is willing to give them more than anybody else. Even at the class, they would rather speak with her than listening to Fenstad: "Two of the students sitting in front of her turned around and began to talk to her At the front of the class. Fenstad started his lecture on logic..." (p. 118) And yet, she did not enforce her will. She let go. Her didacticism and eagerness for new ideas find their expression in the last scene when she listens to Jazz - she opened herself for new things and she finds the light in it: "she now often mentioned glimpses" (p. 125). Music became like spiritual experience, something which can easily be related to Religion or even Love - things she never felt comfortable with. So in many ways we can say that her basic characteristics remain the same all along: She is still optimistic, didactic, and open for new ideas and willing to listen and yet, her way of dealing with these characteristics is more moderate now, less aggressive: "This is my unique problem, Harry." Fenstad's mother coughed and then waited to recover her breath. "I never heard enough jazz." She smiled." (p. 125). She just lets herself be, she came to understand that life is not a battlefield - there's a room for feelings too. ...read more.

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