Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Themes in Merry Gold

First of all, the more I read this book, the more that I like it. I thought it mixed the thought-provoking darkness of the Brothers Grimm with a modern, alcoholic twist. Merry Gold is an extremely frustrating character who I just wanted to move in a positive direction with her life. Then I realized that Merry is exactly the kind of person who does not have a forward or backward progression, but rather just goes in circles of happiness and being forlorn, with many adventures in between. At one point in the novel, Merry literally runs herself in circles to prove to her sister that she prefers making patterns to fitting in. Merry exclaims, "'Don't I have cause enough to make patterns?' I would ask her. 'I've collapsed on a sidewalk, woken up in a hospital, and now been sent here to live with you. I can't even scald my own fingers (Merry Gold 94).'" Merry cannot fit into regular society, so she weaves her own world both physically and in the fabric that she sews. At the end, I wouldn't say she was necessarily content, but she seems intrigued by all the fantastical elements in her own life. It was these images of her hanging herself by a shoestring, or being turned into a flower that brought her world to life for me.

One of the other major themes I noticed was the use of animals. When we asked Kate what the animals were used for, she mentioned the prevalence of them in most fairy tales. Looking back through the book, I found even more mentions of them, simply in descriptions such as "she had eyes like a snake." Or, more noticably, Merry can talk to mice and sews shirts for frogs. It is this connection to the wild world that makes this novel a true fairy tale; most humans do not associate daily with animals, let alone sew clothing for them or talk to them. I think Kate points out a loss our society has suffered in our rejection of animal contact and even when Merry cannot find happiness among humans, she at least finds satisfaction with her animal friends.

1 comment:

Erin Brady said...

I can't agree with you more regarding your theme of Mary "weaving" her way into the world both physically and metaphorically through her sewing. I think it's interesting to note, that when it comes to Mary's seamstress skills she is content with patterns. Instead of designing, she merely replicates other's work. Mary notes the comfort she feels in replication on page 61 in reference to moving to the suburbs in order to replicate her childhood, "Yes. Reproduction is what I want." Mary craves pattern (order and uniformity) despite her rebellious nature both in her life and in her work, " I find that my mind wanders too freely sometimes, unless I keep it on patterns." (138)