Domesticity as a Tool for Fulfillment: Maud Martha

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October 25, 2012
Domesticity as a Tool for Fulfillment
“I said that the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings.”(Linda Hershman, The Washington Post1) The above quote suggests that domesticity holds no importance; it is simply something a woman should not waste her time on. Hershman would most likely look upon the domesticity of the typical 1950s woman in contempt. Perhaps, she might even find Maud Martha, from Brooks’ novel, to be a pitiable character because of this domesticity. However, I believe that she is a character to be admired. In fact, her domesticity seems to emphasize this, her domesticity being the sum of all her household and family ties. In this essay, I am going to argue how Maud’s domesticity allows us as readers to appreciate her character and not simply feel bad for her. Maud proves that domesticity isn’t for the unintelligent or uneducated by using it as an instrument of self-discovery, self-expression, and pride.

“Why, I’m good! I am good.” (chapter 17, page 712) This great discovery was made in none other than Maud Martha’s domestic space. Sparing a mouse in her own home, she feels elated. Interestingly, she ponders on the mouse’s own domestic life before setting it free. (“Perhaps that little Betty…would not…be getting fed.” “It might not be regretting that young Bobby’s education was now at an end.”) Just the simple act of freeing a creature in her own home has become a journey of self. Even more so because it occurred in her domestic space.

“She did not want fame… What she wanted was to donate a good Maud Martha… She would polish and hone on that.” (chapter 6, page 222). In this chapter, we clearly see Maud lay out the kind of life she doesn’t want; the life of Howie Jones. Basically, Maud doesn’t want her life to be a...
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