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Written by Sarah Bachhiesl
“It might have been the first time in my life I understood what an easy bond it was to share a neighborhood as we had done, to share a time past.”
This quote showcases the theme of community within the novel. Marie’s life is shaped by her surroundings and her neighborhood very much enhances this. She ends up marrying someone connected to her through her brother and stays friends with her old neighbor Gerty for life. She maintains a deep connection to the place she came from for most of her life.
“I supposed I now had in my own life an equivalent experience, perhaps, to Gabe’s dark night in our father’s hospital room or Tom’s long fall from the plane, or any of the lonely journeys the dead had taken, journeys that couldn’t be shared or even sufficiently described”.
Through this quote, the recurring theme of death is portrayed. The novel is about an ordinary life, and death is an inevitable part of this. Marie notes that it is indescribable and that near-death experiences only illuminate that it is a journey that must be, and will be taken alone.
“...along with the good dresses from A&S, and the expensive heels my mother had provided, seemed to raise my station in life, seemed to lend me a maturity I had not had before.”
This quote shows that Marie, and many people in general, can find a sense of confidence through portraying a specific outward appearance, even if the only thing that has changed is their clothing.
“‘Well, I don’t want to learn,’ I said. ‘Once you learn to do it, you’ll be expected to do it,’ and I was amazed at the way my own words clarified for me what had been, until then, only a vague impulse to refuse. They looked at me over their knees, this gaggle of girls: a lifetime of hours in the kitchen bearing down on us all.”
This quote depicts the theme of gender identity within the novel. Women were expected to play a traditional role in the home during Marie’s childhood and adolescence and this is the impression she forms. By refusing to learn to cook, she is refusing to take on that role.
“...saying how earlier that summer he had hung two tennis balls from the rafters of the carport, a parking guide for Susan, to keep her, he said, walking into the tiny kitchen, swinging his keys, from knocking us all off our chairs in the middle of dinner when she put the front end through the dining-room wall - as women drivers, no doubt, were apt to do.”
This quote is from Marie as the narrator, but refers to something her husband Tom has done/said. It depicts the theme of gender identity in that Tom assumes that women are not good at driving, simply based on their gender. No one challenges him on this idea even though Susan does eventually go on to become a lawyer in a traditionally male workforce.
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