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Wonders Of The West, A Novel By Kate Braverman

1135 words - 5 pages

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 through the narrator about the mother and the relationship between the two. We don’t learn much about the history, but through the metaphors, we gather insight on the relationship as it was between the mother and child. The narrator refers to the names; Rita, Rhea, Rachel, and Rebecca “They are part of the old litany that gags her. They are about rooms divided into sections for women and areas for men and the repetition of tedious postures and no answers. It’s about the collapsing universe we are no longer bound to.” (25) In this metaphor, it refers to the names that the mother has tried; Rita, Rhea, Rachel, and Rebecca. But, the names do not work for her, they are too confiding, and restricting. Perhaps choosing your own name is something that allows you to have no bounds to the universe. That, being able to “collapse the universe” is a way to drop everything in your life to be able to start over the names are a way to do this but it is all about the right name choice. Without being bound to a name, or a universe, there would be nothing to stop you from moving on, starting over with a new identity. In association with changing names and identities, is collapsing the universe, and being able to do so is because of the lack...

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