Page 54 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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Palmer. It is she who, as “a rem inde r o f high hono r-po in t aver­
ages, o f hands lifted eagerly in class, o f mind gone to small
m a tter,”16 is ignored by the o ther women at the reun ion .
Although the lives o f some o f he r female classmates are care­
fully traced as far as the reunion , only Beatrix’ life is described
thereafter. While more apparently successful than those o f he r
classmates, it is not without its crises. Some, like h e r breaking
down in tears when h e r date tries to fondle he r breasts afte r the
Senior Prom, are amusing; others are tragic. T he major crisis in
Beatrix’ life is he r d augh te r’s runn ing away. While in college
Beatrix marries Harold , a young man whom she meets at Hillel
and subsequently loses to Cynthia, one o f h e r classmates. During
the ir brief marriage she conceives Lena who is not born until after
Haro ld’s disappearance.
Lena and Beatrix do not get along. Beatrix feels tha t she has
failed Lena since birth. She had pu t away the toy trains and o th e r
male-oriented things shortly after the birth which was not marked
by any religious ceremony. Lena has so much troub le com­
municating with he r mother throughou t he r adolescence tha t she
finally runs away. Beatrix searches for her, even going to a con­
vention where she hopes to find Harold, feeling that he may have
heard from Lena. She is disappointed. This is but one o f Beatrix’
failures. Her eventual retirem ent into a life o f mindless television
viewing in Florida, where she imagines h e r d augh te r’s re tu rn ,
puts upon her the stamp o f mediocrity. She is much more ind e ­
penden t than the Wife of
and a charac ter bet­
ter developed than Baba’s daughters, but she lacks the sta tu re of
T h e my th ic c h a ra c te r s in
Her Mothers
a re two sets o f
foremothers. One set consists o f great n ineteenth-century Am e r­
ican women: Emily Dickinson, Margaret Fuller, Louisa May Al-
cott and Charlotte Forten. These are the subject o f her work, and
he r models as well, and it is for tha t reason tha t she is so interested
in the personal details of the ir lives. In addition, she briefly
recounts the stories o f the fou r matriarchs who appear in Genesis,
p. 9.