term paper - Maria Vaccaro LIT 3383 Pete Kunze Term paper...

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Maria Vaccaro LIT 3383 Pete Kunze Term paper March 2, 2011 Mothers are highly influential in the creation and development of their daughters. The typical mother nurtures, mentors, guides, and encourages her daughter throughout her life. However, in much contemporary feminine literature, the main female protagonist’s mother is absent in some way. The absence of a mother figure affects the development of a female character even more profoundly than would the presence of a typical mother. While in Beth Henley’s play Crimes of the Heart , the three main female characters appear weak and unstable due to the loss of their mother, Molly in Rita Mae Brown’s novel Rubyfruit Jungle finds a sense of independence and strength in the absence of her biological mother. These two situations differ in many ways, yet they share the same basic concept of the absent mother. Crimes of the Heart is a story of three sisters, each with her own unique, broken condition, who are united by family tragedy. Though their mother was present in their early years, she hanged herself after their father left, leaving them orphaned and in need of a different source of nurturing. While Meg sets out on her own to become a famous singer, Babe marries a wealthy lawyer, and Lenny remains in the house, caring for and being cared for by her grandparents. Ultimately, all three of these delicate situations crumble and leave the women lost and unstable. Babe is perhaps the most obviously affected by her mother’s suicide, as is evident in her own multiple attempts to end her life. When relating to her sister her reasoning for shooting her husband instead of herself, she remarks, “[Mama] probably didn’t want to kill herself. She wanted to kill him, and I wanted to kill him, too.” (32)
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