« Raising Kane | Main | A temple rent asunder »

March 23, 2006

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree

O'Connor, ''A Stroke of Good Fortune'' -- Jerz: American Lit II (EL 267)

“Thirty-four wasn’t old, wasn’t any age at all. She remembered her mother at thirty-four – she had looked like a puckered-up old yellow apple, sour, she had always looked sour, she had always looked like the wasn’t satisfied with anything” (66).

I didn’t blog earlier, but I have to admit the class discussion on Tuesday helped me a great deal. Thanks everyone.

I also noted a couple of interesting things. In the above passage is her summation of her mom, but it seems to me that Ruby isn’t satisfied with anything either. Our class discussion seemed to move toward that consensus. Her mom had eight children, four of them died, but she still continued to have children. My comment was she saw something in the value of children that Ruby doesn’t recognize.

We could argue that Ruby doesn’t recognize a lot since she doesn’t even recognize the outward signs of her own pregnancy, brought on by the (possibly?) purposeful actions of Bill Hill, who maybe saw the results of his handiwork even more quickly that Ruby did.

Ruby remembers her mother turned prematurely gray and Ruby automatically associated that with giving birth to eight children. But Ruby notes Rufus also looks prematurely old. “He looked old too. He looked older than she did and he was fourteen years younger” (67).

Rufus had recently returned from the war and I’ve hear it independently mentioned many times that that traumatic experiences like that give the appearance that a person has aged. (Incidentally, I think Nick Carraway and Gatsby should have shown more signs of their “war scars”. They were too unaffected to suit me. In can only guess FSF chose to overlook that since it would possibly have impeded everything else he wanted to do in The Great Gatsby.)

So has Ruby had the easier life up to this point? Her self-assessment was “She was extremely young looking for her age” (67). So that indicates to me she’s maybe lead a stress-free life so far, unlike her mother (four dead children) and her brother (war veteran), both of whom she derides for one thing or another. As you may agree, that is all changing with her pregnancy (extra weight, both physically and figuratively).

Ruby wants to move to a subdivision, an area where everyone outside the housing development is excluded. It's a self-sustaining area with its grocery store and other necessary facilities nearby. So she wants to be part of a more exclusive group. That seems to be her long-range goal. Perhaps this pregnancy will allow her to finally achieve that, to leave Pitman, her mother and her brother even farther behind. Maybe she'll even go so far as to disavow knowledge of their existence, since their memories seem to be partly repulsive to her.

Incidentally after reading Jennifer DiFulvio’s blog about the symbolism in the story, I got to thinking. Each flight of steps was 28 stairs, a number normally associated as the average length of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Ruby also lived on the fourth floor, a number equal to the months her friend, Laverne, speculated was the time Bill Hill stopped using contraceptive measures. So each day, she has to relive every step of those four months, if she leaves the building. Interesting ...

Finally, she describes her mother as shrivled up like a yellow apple. The fruit of an apple is actually the ovary. And at the center are the seeds, each with the potential to grow a new tree. So an apple was an apt comparison.

Posted by MattHampton at March 23, 2006 10:35 AM


Post a comment

Remember Me?