Showing 151 - 160 of 316 annotations tagged with the keyword "Mother-Daughter Relationship"

Old Mrs. Harris

Cather, Willa

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Sirridge, Marjorie

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This work, originally entitled "Three Women," is a semi-autobiographical story of Willa Cather, her mother and grandmother, four younger children--all boys--the father, and a servant girl, who all lived together in a small midwestern town. The roles of the three women are beautifully described: the gentle grandmother who cared for and taught the children, her daughter, a displaced "southern belle" who was spoiled in many ways but wise and loving with her children, and her granddaughter, a teenager set upon her own needs and ambitions but dutiful toward her family.

Another part of the story is the relationship of this family to a well educated neighbor couple who "kept a tender watch over the comings and goings of the household." It was in their home that the granddaughter found a library she could use and encouragement for her studies. Eventually it was this couple who made it possible for her to attend college.

The gradual, unnoticed deterioration of the grandmother ended with her death. The response of the family to this event is well described. Also the empathic relationship between the grandmother and the servant girl is very poignant. Even the death of a family cat adds to the depth of the story in a metaphorical way.

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The Operation

Sexton, Anne

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker of this poem undergoes surgery for some kind of abdominal cancer--the important detail being that her mother had recently gone through the same experience and died several months later. A number of images convey the strangeness and alienation of serious illness. The mother’s cancer is an "embryo of evil" that curiously grew inside her like her own daughter (the speaker). The hospital room is the place "where the snoring mouth gapes / and is not dear."

And at her mother’s bedside the speaker finds that she must "lie / as all who love have lied." Her body hair shaved for her own operation, the speaker finds important values have been stripped away: "All that was special, all that was rare / is common here. /. . . Fact: the body is dumb, the body is meat." Coming out from under anesthesia, the speaker calls for her mother.

Later she realizes that, unlike her mother, she will probably survive. The last lines are comic in a self-deflating way, as the speaker gives herself get-back-to-life marching orders partly in the voice of her mother, concluding: "and run along, Anne, run along now / my stomach laced up like a football / for the game." (About 120 lines, in 6- and 9-line stanzas)

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'night, mother

Norman, Marsha

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Summary:

A daughter and her mother play out a psychological drama that is the culmination of a lifetime of poor communication and limited understanding. Laced with humor and a bit of the macabre, the scenes in this short, two-act play work inexorably toward the climax--suicide of the daughter and incomplete resolution of the mother’s confusion.

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My Breast

Wadler, Joyce

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Autobiography

Summary:

One morning in the shower Joyce Wadler, "a journalist, forty-four, Jewish, never married," discovers a lump in her left breast. In this brief, bright, and very readable account, Wadler describes what happened next, taking us through medical examination, diagnosis, and successful lumpectomy and chemotherapy.

But this is much more than a simple patient’s story. For one thing, Wadler is an intrepid researcher, and we learn a good deal about breast cancer and the often agonizing therapeutic choices its victims face. For another, she does not separate her medical adventure from the rest of her life, which includes a day job as a writer for People magazine, a book project, a semi-functional relationship, and a Jewish mother.

Finally, Wadler uses her ironic-sardonic sense of humor to great advantage--remarking, for instance, that through her post-diagnosis impulse to live in the present and not worry about her lover’s monogamy, cancer had made her "the dream girl of every uncommitted man in Manhattan"!

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Midwives

Bohjalian, Christopher

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In March, 1981, in Vermont, Charlotte Bedford goes into labor. She has decided to give birth at home with the help of a midwife, Sybil Danforth, but complications develop. Charlotte has a seizure, her heart stops, and she does not respond to CPR. The fetus is still alive, so Sybil delivers him successfully by Cesarean section, with a kitchen knife. But the bleeding when Sybil makes the incision convinces her assistant that the patient’s heart was still beating. She reports this to the police and Sybil is put on trial for involuntary manslaughter.

The story of the trial is told by Sybil’s daughter, Connie, fourteen years old at the time and now an obstetrician-gynecologist. The acquittal comes at a price: the midwife finds herself no longer capable of delivering babies, and both she and her daughter are given a new insight into the uncertainty which underlies so many of medical decisions. At the end of the novel we are left uncertain whether or not Charlotte was still alive when her baby was delivered.

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Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Anne (Sarah Polley) is 23 years old, is married with two small daughters, lives in a trailer in her mother’s yard, and works as a nightshift cleaner. She is diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and told she has no more than three months to live. She decides to tell no one that she is dying and makes a list of things to do in the time she has left.

She records birthday messages for her daughters, looks for a new wife for her husband (Scott Speedman), explores her troubled relationship with her mother (Deborah Harry), and has an affair with a man she meets in a laundromat (Mark Ruffalo). The last stages of her illness and her death are not shown; the focus is on how she chooses to live a life that has a new shape, both curtailed and illuminated by the knowledge of how soon it will end.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This troubling narrative opens with, "They say you see your whole life pass in review the instant before you die. How would they know? If you die after the instant replay, you aren’t around to tell anyone anything" (120). The narrator, a newborn girl on her way down the garbage chute from the 10th floor of an apartment building, reflects on what might have been had she lived long enough to have experienced life.

The structure of the piece moves the reader from floors ten, nine, into the game of chance played with dice, to "The Floor of Facts." At this juncture, the newspaper account of the newborn dead in the trash is iterated in its cold truths. The narrator laments, "As grateful as I am to have my story made public you should be able to understand why I feel cheated, why the newspaper account is not enough, why I want my voice to be part of the record" (123). The narrator shifts gears and begins to explore what her life might have been had she lived beyond these few hours.

She enters a "Floor of Opinions," where her own beliefs must be voiced and for which there must be room on the "Floor of Facts." She speculates, based on the experiences of her socioeconomic--and possibly racial--situation, whether her death will serve any purpose. On the "Floor Of Wishes" she imagines things she would have likely loved, such as Christmas. From this point, the narrative, in quick and painful anecdotes, draws the reality of the powerlessness, the limitations of love, and the brutality suffered by those in the clutches of urban poverty. Then the narrator enters the garbage compactor at the bottom of the chute, inviting us all to join her "where the heart stops."

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The Lovely Bones

Sebold, Alice

Last Updated: Aug-30-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Susie Salmon, fourteen years old, is raped, murdered, and dismembered by a serial killer who has moved into the neighbourhood. He disposes of her body in an old sinkhole. Susie is presumed dead when someone’s dog finds her elbow in a cornfield. The rest of her body is never discovered. This novel begins with the murder and follows Susie’s family and friends through the ten years after her death.

Her mother and father separate after he becomes obsessed with proving that Mr. Harvey is the culprit (he is, but evidence is hard to find) and she has an affair with the detective investigating the case. Susie’s sister, Lindsay, grows up as the one who has to stand in for two sisters, one present, one lost; her much-younger brother, Buckley, grows up as the one resenting his family’s dismemberment.

Susie’s schoolfriends grow, too: Ray Singh, who first kissed her, is an early suspect. He becomes a doctor. The sensitive, lesbian, Ruth Connors, is near the cornfield at the moment of Susie’s death and feels something she later realizes was Susie’s soul leaving. She becomes a feminist visionary and poet.

By the end, Susie’s parents have reconciled, Lindsay has married and had a child, and Mr. Harvey, the serial killer, has suffered a death perhaps accidental, certainly just. The strong interpersonal structures that develop after Susie’s death are the "lovely bones" of the title, the narrative rather than material remnants of Susie’s life.

What makes this novel more than an account of loss and grief and recovery (though it is a well-imagined account of this kind) is the fact that it is narrated entirely by Susie, from the perspective of heaven. Heaven is a place of possibility, limited only by the imagination and desires of the dead, and it is a place from which the living can be watched, their lives shared and, perhaps, very occasionally, influenced.

Susie suffers being excluded from her family, but her suffering, her voice implies, is tempered by an extraordinary serenity, a kind of calm that most clearly marks the difference between her condition and that of the living. At the end of the novel she briefly returns to the living, inhabiting Ruth’s body and, with Ray, redeeming and obliterating her own appalling first, lethal, sexual experience. After this she can leave off watching "Earth" all the time, as the horizons of heaven expand beyond those she has left behind.

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Loose Threads

Grover, Lorie Ann

Last Updated: Aug-30-2006
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Kay, a 7th grader, lives with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She is particularly attached to her grandmother, who is diagnosed with breast cancer. Kay’s subsequent waves of response to Grandma Margie’s illness include denial, fear, withdrawal from friends, discovery of a new friend whose mother, it turns out, died of cancer, and discovery of new kinds of intimacy with her mother and great-grandmother. During the illness her grandmother teaches her to knit--one last gift before she dies. After her grandmother’s death, she finds herself a little more grown up, recognizing in herself some of her grandmother’s features and habits, and reclaiming her own life on new terms.

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Annotated by:
Donley, Carol

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A one-armed tramp, appropriately named "Mr. Shiftlet," walks up to a run-down farm where an old woman and her retarded daughter, Lucynell, are sitting on the front porch. Lucynell cannot talk. Mr. Shiftlet persuades the old woman to hire him for work around the farm and for repairing a car. She says she can feed him but not pay him. Over a period of a few weeks he repairs the car (which is what he really wants) and offers to marry Lucynell if her mother will give him some money.

After the wedding Mr. Shiftlet takes Lucynell on a honeymoon, but abandons her in a country diner the first day, claiming she’s a hitchhiker. As he drives towards Mobile, he picks up a boy and begins to lecture him about being good to his mother. The angry boy jumps out of the car, and Mr. Shiftlet prays that God will "break forth and wash the slime from this earth."

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