The following sample essay on “Housekeeping”: offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field.
Marilynn Robinson portrays this intolerant, in her book Housekeeping, the novel depicts two sisters, Ruth the narrator, a quiet, friendless girl who has only her sister, and Lucille who longs for lifestyle of normality and stableness. Both girls struggle to cope with their parent’s death, abandonment by each and every caretaker they have ever had, and an insecurity of themselves. Eventually the girls are left in the care of their aunt Sylvie, a childless and childlike woman who has spent the majority of her as a drifter and a loner.
She is the closest thing the girls have ever known to be a mother.
As the novel progresses, Robinson uses Sylvie transcendentalism to lead Ruth into the impermanence of the natural world and human relationships. Robinson makes Ruth choose the lifestyle she desires while she uses Lucille and Sylvie identities to contrast the ideas of conformity and individuality, to show how human beings endeavor to control the uncertainty of the unknown, by using social relationships, and depending on one’s family, because they enjoy the permanence and knowledge of the future, when in reality they need only accept these changes by themselves.
As Ruth egging to travel in the footsteps of Sylvie she begins to enjoy and accept the feelings of isolation, all while Lucille detests Sylvie erratic lifestyle and housekeeping, because she still longs for a stable life and home, wishing to conform with what is normal, tired of being the outcast and stranger society doesn’t accept.
Eventually the girl’s paths begin to separate because of the different goals they each desire, Ruth foreshadows this when she says. “In the spring I had begun to sense that Lucille loyalties were with the other world.
With fall began her tense and passionate campaign to naturalized to it. The months that intervened were certainly the last and perhaps true summer of my life” (Robinson, 95). By foreshadowing the idea that Lucille eventually leaves Ruth, Robinson shows how even the only family that Ruth truly knows, leaves her because it is human nature to want to conform to what is considered normal by society. This leaves Ruth to search for her own individualism and personal freedom, by depending on herself and no longer relying on Lucille.
Ruth slowly begins to accept this idea of being by herself before Lucille even leaves her because she knows that it is inevitable and she can always depend on having resell, which is all she needs in the end. When Ruth and Lucille stop going to school, and travel to the forest, Ruth ponders the real reason Lucille travels to the woods with her when she says “It is accurate to say that Lucille went to the woods to escape observation. I myself felt the gaze of the world as a distorting mirror that squashed her plump and stretched me narrow. , too, thought it was Just as well to walk away from a Joke so rudely persisted in. But I went to the woods for the woods’ own sake, while, increasingly, Lucille seemed to be enduring banishment there. ” In this tote Robinson shows how Lucille travels to the woods not to be with herself, but as a place of refuge from the observations and distaste of society because she is embarrassed of how others think and view her, while Ruth receives those same thoughts of how she is viewed so differently by society, she travels to the woods for the ambiance and chance to be with herself.
While Ruth enjoys the time she is able to spend in the forest, she feels as if Lucille is only tolerating a punishment that she has to bare until she can return to society and be accepted as someone who is viewed as normal. As Ruth and Lucille begin to grow apart, Ruth only gets closer to Sylvie and her way of life. When Lucille finally grows tired of her erratic life style, she leaves Ruth and Sylvie to live with her home economics teacher, in search of this stable lifestyle she desires.
Lucille leaving to live with her home economics teacher shows this idea that humans desperately want this stability and attempt to get it through social relationships and family because the fear what they cannot control. The life Sylvie has chosen does not follow guidelines set by society, and she ignores this by accepting the impermanence of life and legislations, she truly believes that she does not need to depend on anyone but herself.
While Lucille is the opposite and hates everything about Sylvie personality, Lucille shows this after she learns that Sylvie “had had a very nice conversation with a lady who had ridden the roads form South Dakota, en route to Portland to see her cousin hanged” to which she immediately yells “Why do you get involved with such trashy people? It’s embarrassing! ” (104). The fact Sylvie does not care who she speaks too again shows this idea of impermanence, how she will meet new and different people every day, and that conversations she has with them are of no importance so there is no harm to them.
As to how Lucille sees the conversation with someone strange as a something that Just shouldn’t be done because it is not normal and that is what Lucille so badly desires. After Ruth and Sylvie return from the lake clothes dirtied and wet Sylvie says, “Don’t mind if they stare… We walked through town… At the drugstore we passed Lucille and her friends, though Sylvie seemed not to notice. Lucille was dressed like all the others in a sweatshirt and sneakers and rolled up jeans,”.
Robinson shows how Sylvie does not even notice Lucille, because she has Just become another face in society, who blends in with the others. While Ruth and Sylvie are still considered the outcasts of the city because of their choices to be individually free and not follow the lines established by society. By the end of the novel Ruth understands why Sylvie chose to be different and to depend on herself, and does the same for herself. The townspeople decline the idea that two self- reliant, transcendentalist women can create their own futures, so they view them as deranged people with no future.
Robinsons contrast of conformity and individuality ultimately shows how important not being like everyone else and having one’s own identity can be. Robinson shows that in the end nothing is accomplished if everyone does the same thing. By using Lucille hate of anything that is not accepted in society, Robinson shows how crucial it is to be yourself because then you can truly contribute to society. Robinson used this message in Housekeeping because she believes that everyone has something special about them and that they should not just let opportunity pass them by, Just to fit in and be another face in the crowd.