The Effects of Kate's Birthmark in Jill McCorkle's Ferris Beach

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The Effects of Kate's Birthmark in Jill McCorkle's Ferris Beach "'It's a birthmark', my mother said over and over. 'Lots of people have birthmarks'"(p.44). In Jill McCorkle's Ferris Beach, Kate Burns has a birthmark. The presence of her birthmark causes Kate to be shy and self-conscious. It is her weak spot, affecting how she perceives both herself and others. Because of the focus Kate's birthmark draws to her face, she places great importance on appearance. Kate's stress on the way things look affects her relationships with everyone around her and especially the women in her life. Through most of the novel, Kate's relationship with her mother is clouded by her relationships with Mo Rhodes and Angela. It is not until Kate is able to look past mere appearances and see these women clearly for what they are, that her relationship with her own mother can begin to grow and develop. Kate hates her birthmark. Even more, she hates her mother's attitude about her birthmark. Kate desperately wants someone to blame for her birthmark and someone to have pity for her. She "always wanted to say that if it was a birthmark it must be her [Cleva's] fault"(p.44). Her mother, however, is unsympathetic and explains, "I just want her to see that she can't let this ruin her life; there are things we just have to accept"(p.48). Kate's mother tries to constantly remind her that things could be worse and she shouldn't whine. But during her early childhood years, Kate's birthmark does affect her and it is hard for her to accept. Kate feels that her birthmark is an open invitation for others to hurt her. She becomes extremely self-conscious as she puts up with teasing by Merle Hucks and R.W. Quincy. Covering her face with her hand becomes an automatic reaction. Kate's attitude about her birthmark and her attitude towards her mother become a source of tension in their relationship. She hates that her mom simply will not apologize for the birthmark.. Kate begins to hate her mother for her lack of compassion and so she seeks other women with which to form bonds. Mo Rhodes and Angela become substitutes to compensate for the close relationship that Kate lacks with her own mother. Mo Rhodes is the epitome of a "cool" mom. When the Rhodes' move in across the street, Kate is intrigued by Mo and overwhelmed by the chance to get to know Misty, a friend her own age.

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