Thursday, August 13, 2009

Without You/Me I’m/You’re Nothing (by res ipsa loquitur)

Did you have time to take a look at the New Yorker article -- Wilder Women -- that I mentioned the other day? If so, I came up with the following questions for discussion. Yes, I know they sound like one of those back-of-the-trade-paperback “extras” for book club use. Anyway, not in any particular order of importance …

  1. To what extent, if any, do the mother and daughter’s respective politics inform their relationship?
  2. Did Rose’s jump in social class have any effect on their relationship or on her view of her mother?
  3. At one point Rose said, “My life has been arid and sterile, because I have been a human being instead of a woman.” Rose had lived through first wave feminism, though, and certainly lived the life of a feminist. Why would she think the concepts mutually exclusive? As“just a woman”(by her daughter's definition), was Laura any less of a feminist?
  4. Although Laura had been writing a column for a while, her big literary success didn’t happen until she was sixty-five years old. Rose had been a successful writer for more than ten years by that time. What happens when mother professionally eclipses daughter?
  5. Rose claims to have received “no affection” from her mother, yet Rose shared her talent for editing with her mother, which by the author’s account, made them better books. Does Laura seem to have had anything to give to Rose aside from material to edit and to incorporate in her most successful work?

Did you read the “Little House” books? I read them all around second or third grade, as I recall. I know that when I asked my fourth grade teacher to give me a “grownup” novel, she directed me to My Antonia.

This is Laura.

This is Rose. (I like her hat.)