Atwood’s, Danticat’s and Dowd’s transitions of women’s identities due to the loss of their parents
The loss of a parent develops the child’s identity. Grace in “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood, Sophie in “Breathe, Eyes, Memory” by Edwidge Danticat, and Holly in “Solace of the Road” by Siobhan Dowd, all demonstrate how mothers impact their daughters when they are no longer a part of their lives. Through changes of physical appearances, various life decisions and rapports with men, Grace, Sophie and Holly show how they have dealt with their mothers leaving them. Be it death or desertion, they have had substantial effects on their children’s personality traits. In the early stages of her adolescents, Grace’s mom dies and leaves her to take care of her eight siblings and cope with the abusive comportment of her alcoholic father. In taking on the role as the new woman of the household, she literally gets into character by keeping her mothers shawl as a keepsake, “I left her in the same clothes she had on, except for the shoes. I kept back the shoes, and her shawl as well, which she would have no need of”(Atwood 139). Grace demonstrates her maturity in the situation by accepting her mother’s death and still managing to handle it in a practical manner by preserving some of her belongings. However, after Mary Whitney who acted as a mother figure for a portion of her life dies, Grace took on her own identity. Instead of keeping her belongings, she rids herself of them, “I sold her box, which was of good quality, and also her best dress, to Jeremiah the peddler, who came around again just after her death; and I also sold him the gold ring which she kept hidden under the floor”(Atwood 229). Grace’s mother’s death compels Grace to wear her clothing and to take on her role whereas Mary’s death allowed her to have freedom and become her own woman. A similar situation occurs with Sophie from Edwidge Danticat’s “Breath, Eyes, Memory”. Sophie’s mother left her with her Aunt Atie to go to New York when she was first born. One of the few things she knows about her mother is her love for daffodils. The flowers were a unique sight in Haiti and did not seem to belong in their setting, “Tante Atie told me that my mother loved daffodils because they grew in a place that they were not supposed to” (Dandicat 21). For Sophie the colour represented individuality as well as a tribute to her mother. She wears yellow in honour of her mother’s love for the flower, “ ‘Everything you own is yellow,’ she said, ‘wildflower yellow, like dandelions, sunflowers” (Dandicat 21). Clothing for woman has proven to be a major factor in portraying their individuality and personalities. Sophie tried to keep her mother within her heart and symbolized it through her clothing. In contrast to Solace from Siobhan Dowd’s “Solace of the Road”, where Holly uses a wig and clothing to change her identity to find her mother. Holly’s mother abandoned her in Ireland and she was then sent to England to a foster home facility called Templeton house. Holly transitions from home to home and Templeton house so often, she becomes completely fed up. At her latest foster home, Holly steals her foster mothers blonde wig and alters herself into a new person she calls “Solace”. Holly thought that, “Without the wig on, solace was gone. I was plain old Holly Hogan again, the girl nobody wanted ”(Dowd 30). Her new identity turned her into someone she thought to be more important and loved. As she fled from her new home, a new outfit was the next step for her transformation. As she looked into the mirror of the boutique she stole her new dress from, she thought to herself, “… I didn’t look half bad. Sorry, Solace didn’t look half bad. The colours went with the blonde wig and you could see her slim-slam hips. I folded the jeans and the top into the lizard. You’re dead Holly Hogan, I said to the mirror” (Dowd 80). Holly would never where a dress but Solace was fearless and glamorous. In search...
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