The Color of Water

Does Helen leave to escape her chaotic homelife or to escape the mother whose very appearance confuses her about who she is?

"Our house was a combination three-ring circus and zoo, complete with ongoing action, daring feats, music, and animals."

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I think this has more to do with conflicting emotions about her mother. Unlike Ruth's permanent estrangement from her own mother, Helen keeps in contact with Ruth. Ruth also encourages Helen to come home and work out their differences.