Title of Abstract

Retrospection and Reconciliation: Exploring the Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships in the Short Stories of Alice Munro and Lucia Berlin

Submitting Student(s)

Julia Breitkreutz

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Siobhan Brownson, Ph.D.; Jo Koster, Ph.D.; & Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Abstract

In the short stories of Alice Munro and Lucia Berlin, the literary technique of retrospection is extensively utilized by both authors to explore the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship. Munro and Berlin masterfully weave together the past with the present through the use of retrospection, which enables their female protagonists to explore the strained relationships they have with their mothers. Ideas from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution are applied to my evaluation of the mother-daughter relationships at the center of the selected short stories. Concepts from these two feminist theorists that are central to my analysis include Beauvoir’s theory of how mothers seek a “double” in their daughters, and Rich’s examination of the concept of “matrophobia” (the fear of becoming one’s mother) and the young woman’s quest for her own identity — a journey that requires separation from the mother figure. The selected short stories are from Munro’s collections Dance of the Happy Shades and Runaway, and Berlin’s collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. In the short stories being compared and analyzed, the protagonists are estranged from their mothers and are seeking to understand their mothers later in life, often when the mother is dead. Through the retrospective narrative employed in these short stories, the daughters begin to explore their strained relationship with their mothers and begin the process of reconciling themselves to their mothers’ past mistakes and their own mistakes as well.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

Retrospection and Reconciliation: Exploring the Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships in the Short Stories of Alice Munro and Lucia Berlin

In the short stories of Alice Munro and Lucia Berlin, the literary technique of retrospection is extensively utilized by both authors to explore the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship. Munro and Berlin masterfully weave together the past with the present through the use of retrospection, which enables their female protagonists to explore the strained relationships they have with their mothers. Ideas from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution are applied to my evaluation of the mother-daughter relationships at the center of the selected short stories. Concepts from these two feminist theorists that are central to my analysis include Beauvoir’s theory of how mothers seek a “double” in their daughters, and Rich’s examination of the concept of “matrophobia” (the fear of becoming one’s mother) and the young woman’s quest for her own identity — a journey that requires separation from the mother figure. The selected short stories are from Munro’s collections Dance of the Happy Shades and Runaway, and Berlin’s collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. In the short stories being compared and analyzed, the protagonists are estranged from their mothers and are seeking to understand their mothers later in life, often when the mother is dead. Through the retrospective narrative employed in these short stories, the daughters begin to explore their strained relationship with their mothers and begin the process of reconciling themselves to their mothers’ past mistakes and their own mistakes as well.