Love At Second Glance

.. d to him once, “.. Like all other men- full of bull*censored*. I know more about what you preach and talk about in the things you don’t say then in the things you do say.” At one point they discuss, and literally list all of the things she may not like about him, in order to hopefully find something so he can change it. For example, they list age, race, money, friends, etc.

While they don’t identify any cause, they both recognize that she needs to feel protected- and he can’t do that. My argument is that if they had spent more time together during their friendship, and discussed these critical areas, and learned more about each other, they would have had a better chance of a long lasting relationship. In fact, when they get together at the end of the story, it is my feeling that they have a better chance of success, since they now know each other much better and it is not only based upon race and appearance. The second part of this paper deals with similar issues involving relationships and how certain of these are chosen for us. For example we have no power over whom our parents or other relatives will be. We are brought into the world with no actual choice or decision regarding who our family will be. Sometimes we are pleased with this outcome and sometimes we are not.

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However, there is nothing a person can do to change this outcome. The novel, Comfort Woman, by Nora Okja Keller, involves a relationship between a mother and daughter, struggling to forget the past and move into the future. The main character, Beccah, finds herself in a situation where she has many conflicting feelings for her mother. Her mother, Akiko, who by some standards would be considered eccentric, or even mentally disturbed, raised her. Their relationship when Beccah was very young can be considered a very close one.

As she gets older and more aware of her surroundings she recognizes many qualities in her mother (some she likes and some she doesn’t) that complicate their relationship. Beccah, at the young age of ten, notices that her mother sometimes enters into a transient state leaving behind all normalcies’s of life. Beccah states, “At ten, despite all the people coming to hear her talk this way, I was still afraid that someone would hear my mother’s craziness and lock her up.” Beccah does not seem proud of her mother her but concerned for her, almost as if the roles were reversed. She wanted to protect her mother, and hope that some day her mother would be become “normal.” It is during this time in her life that I believe she does a real assessment on her mother. Occasionally she is embarrassed by her presence, and at one point, wishes her mother wasn’t there. “It has taken me nearly thirty years, almost all of my life, but finally the wishes I flung out in childhood have come true.

My mother is dead.” Beccah says. There is much pain in her voice over the death of her mother and her feelings are extremely complicated. She recognizes certain hardships that Akiko had endured and how she had still cared for Beccah, yet she is still embarrassed by certain behaviors. Beccah also has problems with relationships with other children and it appears that Beccah to some degree blames her mother for this. During her younger school days Beccah is convinced that no one wishes to be friends with her.

She feels like she is an outsider because of certain things, such as her clothes, her mother, and her looks. We are led to believe that some girls ostracized her at every opportunity, making her feel as an outsider. Later on she meets one of the girls she believed tormented her and gets a much different story. “Perhaps what I thought was true had been colored by the insecurities of a ten-year old girl. ..I realized that not only could I not trust my mother’s stories; I could not trust my own.” Her mother seems to constantly lie about how she met her husband and other stories from that time. This influences a lot of Beccah’s behavior.

All of her mother’s antics may have made Beccah fearful of the other children and kept her away from any social circles. For example, when she finally seems to meet a boy she likes, her mother attacks her at the door with a knife, which certainly pushed Beccah into breaking up with him. Her mother tries to convince her that everything about society and her body is wrong. Temptations and other such things are not acceptable. Beccah’s attitudes at points are very harsh, showing anger and frustration.

Beccah thinks, “Where earlier I had cherished the moments my mother paid attention to me, recognizing me as her flesh-and-blood daughter, I now began to cringe whenever she studied me…” Beccah is sizing up her mother, as one would do in any relationship, but seems to find many faults. The apex of these feelings in seen when her mother decides to bless the campus and route that Beccah takes to and from school every day. This may be seen as foolish to the average person, but her mother believes she is protecting Beccah. The other kids taunt her mother and try their best to get a rise out of her. Beccah is upset as she thinks, ” I wanted to scream, to tell the kids to shut their mouths and go to hell.. But I couldn’t..Because for the first time, as I watched and listened to the children taunting my mother..And I was ashamed.” That shows how truly humiliated the young Beccah was during this episode.

She even admonishes herself since she did nothing to protect her mother “from the children’s sharp-toothed barbs”. Beccah decides to run off and escape from this situation, much like she wishes she could run away from her whole life with her mother. My argument is that Beccah at points in her life recognized many characteristics that she did not like and that made Beccah’s life much more difficult. She intuitively knew that her mother did not posses some of the qualities she desired and this frustrated her. While at the end of the story, Beccah learns to feel love for her mother (given her tragic circumstances), it is clear that she was angered, frustrated, and embarrassed at times- and at some level wished she could have had a different parent.