Wonders of the West, a novel by Kate Braverman

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Wonders of the West, a novel by Kate Braverman, describes a mother and child interaction as they sit and watch Hollywood Playhouse. The child is the narrator and in this scene is describing a past interaction between the mother and the narrator : “I am much younger.”, (24) which leads to the conclusion that that in the interaction the narrator is younger. This scene the narrator describes how they are sitting, even going into detailing about the mother’s eye color. The child plays some sort of question game, but the mother however does not seem too thrilled about the game, more interested in the television show, the “glass of brown liquid that burns when you taste it,” (24) and her smoking. “I wish you’d outgrow that game already” (27) says the mother, the child then explains to us, the readers, “Once I begin the question game, it is impossible for me to stop. It’s like a spell. I keep asking questions until I get banished, until my mother sends me away.” (27) In the story the mother changes her identity, or at least her name, whenever it suits her or whenever she is finished with the previous name. As we read we learn the mother’s given name is Ruth Ann, but she declares “Ruth isn’t right anymore.” (25) Then it is added “the people who gave her that name are accidents.” (25) Which indicates that the mother is the superior of the story, believing that she is above all. The mother tests out several names; Rita, Rhea, Rachel, and Rebecca, they are all deemed unacceptable. Her current name, before she decides to throw it away, is Ruby, which as we read, “lasts half a year before my mother decided it was tinny and déclassé.” (25) Though very little happens in the plot as we read, a lot of descriptions and information is given out th... ... middle of paper ... ...should be remembered that the whole chapter is narrated in the first-person by the child, in a flashback. The metaphor is accordingly child's point of view, in words that the mother had spoken. Given that the mother seems willing to abandon the child, to banish the child because of a question game, this metaphor perhaps expresses the child's knowledge that so easily the universe could collapse with a name, that the mother could so easily leave the child behind, leave behind those that bind her to the universe. This desire is hardly unique to this metaphor. It is consistent with the information the narrator installs, for instance, how “those that gave her the name were accidents”, if the mother could so easily write off her own parents, what would make a child so different. Works Cited Braverman, Kate. Wonders of the West. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993. Print.

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