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Written by Callie Labrador
It's the stuff no one sees that does the most damage.
Although Meredith is speaking about three rotten steaks that she threw out, that likely have E. coli growing within them, she is actually referring to her family situation and everything that is rotten within it. On the surface, the Shales were a devoted, happy family, but just beneath it ,their unit was festering and going rotten from the inside, damaged by her father's abuse that nobody saw but that damaged her more than anything else.
And I wonder, not for the first time, how Mrs Mues can dwell in darkness fifty-two times a year and still see so clearly while my own mother, a creature of sunlight and shine, sees nothing at all.
Paula Mues is a deeply devout woman who spends her Fridays in the dark, fasting and communicating with God, yet despite this darkness has absolute clarity with regard to Meredith's father and the lives he has ruined. By contrast, her mother sees things as she wants them to be,not as they actually are. Because she wants desperately to cling on to her husband and her picture of their life as a family, Sharon Shale sees her daughter as the problem, not her husband. She sees his serial molestation of children as a mistake and will not see things as they are but how she decides that they are, thereby trying to force everyone else to share her selective vision as well.
I'm as good as invisible to him. The bigger I am the more he won't see me, honey. You know how your father is.
This observation by Paula Mues gives insight into the character of Meredith's father, who views any physical imperfection as unforgivable but does not feel similarly repelled by imperfections of character. His caring only for youth and vivacity also explains Sharon's jealousy of her daughter whom she seems to hold responsible for her father molesting her. Meredith uses her father's dislike of the unkempt to protect herself hoping that her deliberate lack of showers and unbrushed hair will repel him sufficiently to make him leave her alone.
Your father made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes, Meredith! Why did you have to ruin our family?
Meredith gave evidence against her father for his molesting her and to her mother, this act alone broke up the family. Sharon refers to the abuse of her child as "a mistake" and to her, as long as nobody finds out about it, and their picture of a family is in disturbed, it is a forgivable one. It is this attitude that makes her eager to bring her husband back into the family again and she gives no thought whatsoever to how it affects Meredith because she believes Meredith gave no thought to what giving evidence might do to her. Sharon is it at all protective of her child, wanting only to protect her vision of how her life should be, and is angry with Meredith for not playing along.
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