Countless times throughout Robinson’s work, the idea of the home is used as a way to contrast society’s views, and what it means to the characters of Robinson’s novels. In Robinson’s most famous novel Housekeeping, two young girls experience life in a home built by their grandfather, but altered by every person that comes to care for them. After their mother takes her own life, the two sisters; Lucille and Ruth are left under the care of their grandmother, Sylvia. Sylvia attempts to bring order to the life of the girls, through diligent housekeeping. Her housekeeping is seen as a metaphor to the communal views on the home and family life. Sylvia’s tight maintaining is what their town, Fingerbone, believes is right. She keeps the windows and doors closed, the floors cleaned, and the beds made. By doing this Sylvia hopes she will keep Lucille and Ruth from straying from society. This idea of fitting in with society is one that is carried through the novel. Lucille’s and Ruth’s family was never one that “fit in”, with the suicide of their mother, the death of their grandfather, and their dad gone, they have never been the “normal” family. Consequently, any time they are given the chance to leave Fingerbone, they do. Robinson uses housekeeping as a way to represent the views of the town, and more broadly, the views of society at that time; to stick to...
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...t his inevitable death. With the use of these characters and their point of view and tone towards death, Robinson concludes that there is in fact some hope in death, and her audience should feel that too.
Marilynne Robinson utilizes significant strategies in order to convey her overarching message that defying status quo, and being different is something that should be accepted by society. She explores the idea of transience, death, transgression, and the home and family life. Through her descriptive symbols and metaphors Robinson is able to capture her audience and highlight just how important individuals are. She utilizes her characters and their effects as a way to get through to her readers. Her novels convey themes that allow the reader to think in a different light and consider how defying the status quo can be a positive thing, just like in Robinson’s works.
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