A Complicated Kindness

Symbolic Representations of a Complicated Kindness 10th Grade

Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness tells the story of a Mennonite teen, Nomi Nickels, and her response to the rise of conflict and tragedy in her family. This novel, however, explores not simply the life of a fictional coming-of-age young woman, but also of the author herself. The novel exists symbolically as representation of Miriam Toews and her past experiences, specifically the disintegration of her family. Writing this novel was both therapeutic, and an attempt to understand and reimagine her past life. The parallels between the story of fictitious Nomi Nickels, and that of her creator, Miriam Toews, are effectively illustrated in the similarities of narrator’s voice, fatherly figure, and many aspects of setting.

Firstly, parallels between the author and the protagonist she created reveal not only that authors may lend their own voice to that of their narrator, but also that Miriam Toews purposefully created Nomi Nickels as symbolic representation of herself. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Miriam Toews stated, “I have a problem with beginnings… and endings… and middles. I find it very, very difficult to write. It takes everything.” Similarly, A Complicated Kindness begins with Nomi Nickels introducing herself...

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