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"Shopping" By Joyce Carol Oates

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Montiel 1

Love of a Mother

The relationship between a mother and daughter may be very difficult. Today modern women live different lives then a long time ago. A lot of women are single parents and hold a career, therefore making the job of a mother very difficult. There are many complications and heartaches, but then there is always the plus size of love and rewards. This is no exception between Nola and her mother Mrs. Dietrich, characters in “Shopping by Joyce Carol Oates. Nola is obviously trying to spread her wings and fly into a young woman, however; Mrs. Dietrich is having a really hard time letting her go. In Oates short story one is exposed to the hardship that a mother has in watching her daughter transition from a girl into a young woman.

The shopping trip allows Mrs. Dietrich to see her daughter as child once again and hide the new young adult life that Nola has returned from college with. It also gives her mother a chance to in some way interact and be a part of her daughter’s life. As a divorced woman, Mrs. Dietrich is very lonely so she yearns for these special moments with her daughter, she sees her daughter as her only source of love-her outlet to give and receive love. “…Mrs. Dietrich thinks she is in love with her daughter,” (Oates 186). These strong emotions are most likely why Mrs. Dietrich needs Nola to such and extent. Mrs. Dietrich wants to feel needed by her daughter like when her daughter was a child. The betrayal of Mr. Dietrich causes Mrs. Dietrich to cling even more. However, she finds that Nola no longer needs her. Nola is becoming an adult. Mrs. Dietrich's memories of Nola as a child are now replaced with the images of her daughter at the mall

Montiel 2

doing things that bring back times when she was child like “ …holding items of clothing up to herself in the three way mirrors, modeling things she thinks especially promising” (Oates 188). These are things she did as a child when they both use to go to the mall together before she left to college. Mrs. Dietrich recognizes that her daughter is growing up but is not ready for it to occur. Her desire to make Nola happy shows that she is trying, but inside thoughts show that she does not like the way Nola dresses, or the clothes she picks out, or the restaurant they eat at. Her emotional attachment and need for her daughter overpowers her knowledge that it is time for Nola to grow up. She would prefer for Nola to remain young. Despite her mother's desire, Nola is growing up and becoming her own person.

Nola has embraced the beginning of adulthood and handles it very well. She tries to be an individual by picking out clothes that are more grown up and funky. She makes an astute and mature recognition be expressing the fact that she is not worried about the "disheveled woman ['s]" affect on the people but the effect the people will have on the women (Oates 193). She also defiantly smokes a cigarette in front of her mother. “She smokes her cigarette calmly, expelling smoke from her nostrils in a way Mrs. Dietrich thinks particularly coarse” (Oates 191). The rebellion is trying to show that she is old enough to not have to follow her mother's rules or that she even cares what her mother thinks. However, she has not reached full maturation because

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