"She would spend the rest of her years guiding Lydia, sheltering her, the way you tended a prize rose: helping it grow, propping it with stakes, arching each stem toward perfection."
Marilyn vows to not be like her own mother, who pushed the idea of a domestic life down her throat. However, the metaphor of Lydia as a rose indicates the ultimate selfishness of parenting. Ultimately, Lydia is not given the space or the freedom to grow into herself. Rather, Marilyn views Lydia as a blank canvas that she can paint with her own ideas and dreams. Marilyn wants Lydia to be perfect so that she can exhibit her as a "prize."
Straight as a Ruler's Edge (Simile)
"She had cut herself on the glass: a deep gash right across the center of her palm, straight as a ruler's edge."
After Marilyn falls on her way to her car, she is forced to assess the damage around her. Marilyn's fall symbolizes the fact that her life is crashing down around her. However, among the disorganized chaos, the precision of her cut fascinates and calms her. She is prompted to return to her fascination with the medical world, which eventually inspires her to abandon home and continue pursuing her degree.
"Lydia felt the ache of it all, deep and piercing as a foghorn."
A foghorn or fog signal is a device that uses sound to warn vehicles of navigational hazards like rocky coastlines, or boats of the presence of other vessels, in foggy conditions. The term is most often used in relation to marine transport. The image of a foghorn further contributes to the novel's motifs of danger and the unknown, specifically in regards to water. Although Lydia does not know the exact stories of her family's hardships, she clearly feels the effects of her family's pain.
A Heavy Stone (Simile)
"Somehow Lydia had known: that this book had pulled on her mother like a heavy, heavy stone."
Although Lydia does not know her mother's relationship to the Betty Crocker cookbook, Lydia is able to extrapolate what the book signifies for Marilyn. This simile contributes to the motif of heaviness or the idea of being weighed down. Lydia's death by drowning symbolizes that her family's sadness drags her down. This simile further asserts the idea that family trauma can persist for generations.
"The look in her eyes was fear, as if Marilyn were running along the edge of a cliff."
Doris strongly disapproves of Marilyn's marriage to James due to his race. For Doris, Marilyn's decision to be with James is a death sentence. She worries that her grandchildren will not be accepted by society, and she fears that Marilyn has been corrupted by progressive ideals since she left home and attended university. This decision causes a major rift in Doris and Marilyn's relationship. The damaging effects of Marilyn's relationship with her mother continue after her mother's death, and Marilyn later projects these problems onto her relationship with Lydia.
Everything I Never Told You Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Everything I Never Told You is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.