Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson: An Analysis

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English IV Honors
Binder Entry 3

Creatures of Habit
Throughout chapters one and two of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, the narrator of the novel, Ruth, compares and contrasts the parenting styles of both her grandmother and great aunts towards her sister Lucille and herself. The girls have been between two different parenting styles, one that was caring but cautious, and another that was well-meaning but indifferent. The styles of parenting presented to Lucille and Ruth by the women in their life play an important role in how the girls will learn receive love and care in their lives. They have learned so far that love is fragile and true relationships cannot be forged in a day-dream manner. Slyvia’s parenting style is the best example of the day-dream concept. After losing her husband in a train accident, Slyvia (the girl’s grandmother), tries her best to nurture her granddaughters in an orderly but distant manner. The years that she raised her girls in this fashion was effective in the present, but the result of her surface level interactions with her daughters left her estranged from them in her old age. Ruth and Lucille’s grandmother sees her opportunity to take care of them after their mother’s death as a second chance to fix her past mistakes as a mother. Their grandmother believes that she never really fostered a strong bond with her daughters, she was able to learn her daughters’ routines in the house and have them do their chores in an orderly manner, but she never got to know who they were as people, and most importantly “She had never taught them to be kind to her.” (Pg. 19) This quote emphasizes the idea that Slyvia never taught her daughters how to truly love. I think it is the lack of intimacy she shared with her daughters that she regrets the most. Because Slyvia regrets her inability to know her daughters as people, she now wishes to distance herself from her daughter’s inner thoughts, most likely from...
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