Ruth's Role In Housekeeping By Marilynne Robinson

After reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, one may ask, how does this book fit into a course addressing genus, genius, and gender? For one, this course focuses on the female geniuses of literature and how they fall into the genus, which is driven by the male gender. In this respect, the narrator in Housekeeping is a young girl, Ruth, who happens to be the genius in this story. She tells us, in quite detail, the story of how her family came to reside in the town of Fingerbone, and the struggles she and her sister Lucille went through after their mother and grandmother passed away. Ruth starts out the story by telling us, the reader, about her grandfather, whom she never had the pleasure of knowing. She tells us of his paintings of …show more content…
Whether she was telling the truth about these details or was fabricating a story, she was a genius for doing so. Ruth gave the reader something to picture while reading Ruth’s story. She gave the reader insight into her life, which pulled you in so you could almost feel her pain, confusion, comfort? The grandfather in Housekeeping was really the only mention of a male figure in the story; everyone else mentioned was that of the female figure. Here we see Ruth making an attempt to create a new genus as Mary Wolstonecraft attempted to do. A genus made up of women strong enough to make it on their own. It didn’t matter if they came from wealth or poverty as long as they were able to make it without the help of a …show more content…
She was beginning to feel the push to live under everyone’s expectations. Lucille was gravitating toward the “norm” that the people of Fingerbone had come to live by. She wanted to wear pretty clothes and go to dances. She wanted to better her education so she could get out of Fingerbone. She wanted to live in the “light”. The one time she decided to “flood the room so suddenly with light” (Robinson, M., 1980, p.148); it shocked both Sylvie and Ruth. As Ruth stated, “In the light we were startled and uncomfortable” (p. 150). Why was this? It seems that in the dark they were able to hide from everyone, even themselves. This way they were unable to see one another and felt that they were in a room of their own, were able to look how they wanted, and the privacy to think what they wanted. But Lucille didn’t want to hide anymore. She’d had enough and finally moved in with her teacher, leaving everything of her behind to Ruth. Lucille didn’t want anything to do with that life anymore. She wanted a real room of her own. A place where she was allowed to be who she wanted without Ruth making fun of her or refusing to help her because she thought it was silly or boring, a place where she could have a diary without the fear of someone reading

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