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|Agree re. childcare. Irked by Mary.
Written by Rachel G
(10/13/2008 8:28 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I'm not so sure, penned by Jean B
I agree with you that childcare and nursing were very much a woman's role at that time. In fact it is only in recent decades that the notion that men should play a significant part in the care of small children has begun to take hold. Certainly in the 1950s (and later), family responsibilities generally divided along gender lines, and it would have been most unusual for even the most "helpful around the home" type of man to be the one who soothed the fevered brow of a sick child. I don't find Charles blameworthy here, and I'm not surprised he went out shooting all day to escape from his wife's endless complaining.
It is Mary who's attitude and behaviour really offends me in Ch7. Her little boy is possibly critically hurt and all she can do is have hysterics. When Charles goes to visit his parents Mary responds with an almighty sulk:
"So you and I are to be left to shift by ourselves, with this poor sick child; and not a creature coming near us all the evening! I knew how it would be. This is always my luck. If there is any thing disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it, and Charles is as bad as any of them. Very unfeeling!.... So here he is to go away and enjoy himself, and because I am the poor mother, I am not to be allowed to stir...." etc etc.
Then when Anne offers to babysit so Mary can go out to dinner, Mary cheers up instantly. What repels me particularly about all this is the way Mary justifies everything by references to her "mother's feelings" for her "dear" child. What nonsense! Mary is selfishly concerned about her own feelings and her own amusement. She is a useless parent and a parasite on Charles and on Anne.
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