White Oleander Essay, Research Paper
By definition a white oleander is a poisonous Eurasian evergreen shrub having fragrant,
hite, rose, or purple flowers and whorled leaves. White Oleander by Janet Fitch is about the
weakness of love, the unsteadyness and untrustworthyness, and the disease of love that has come
to run and ruin Astrid s life. This is a story of emotions and a mother and daughter. California is a
constant in this novel. The white oleander s were the poison of love.
Ingrid is Astrid s mother. She is a bitter poet. If the world does not go her way she will
imagine it to be the what she desires. Beauty is my mother s law, her religion. You could do
anything you wanted, as long as you were beautiful, as long as you did things beautifully. If you
weren t, you just didn t exist. She had drummed it into my head since I was small. Although I had
noticed by now that reality didn t always conform to my mother s ideas. She reads poetry in a
certain coffeehouse every weak where she attracts many men. Only peons make excuses for
themselves, she taught me. Never apologize, never explain. (Astrid) As you cn seee Ingrid was a
character who though very highly of herself, and mostly only herself. Ingrid could never think of
anyine but herself, even with Astrid she was always just along fot the ride.
Astrid is very different from her mother. She is more like the odd one out. Ashe doesn t fit
in at school. While most kids were badgering their parents for things she felt guilty that her mom
had to care for her. She was a beautiful woman dragging a crippled foot and I was that foot. I
was bricks sewn into the hem of her clothes, I was a steel dress. She would avoid asking her
mom to spend money on her. She was always afraid that she would wake up one day and find her
gone. I was afraid she would fly away, and I would end up alone, living in some place where
there were too many children, too many smells, where beauty and silence and the intoxication of
her words rising in air wold be as far away as Saturn. Astrid thought her mother was
God…before everything started to happen.
They met Barry at a poetry reading. Ingrid was reading poetry after a book signing, in her
hypnotic voice. Barry got his book signed and asked for a date. She said no and went on a date
withanther man. After this incident Barry began to follow her. Eventually he cornered her into a
date. Ingrid started to like them. Ingrid had always said Never leta man stay the night. That s
exactly what she did, she fell in love with him, against her better judgment. Everything started to
be happy around the house. Inrid and Barry were madly and passionatly in love. Astrid prayed for
Barry to be her new father, for him to keep everything all right forever.
One day Ingrid went t his house because he wouldn t return his phone calls.He was in his
house with another woman. Ingrid quit her job, she was devestated and Astrid didn t know what
to do. When Astrid sees what the heartbreak of love is doing to her mother she swears she will
never fall in love. All of a sudden Ingrid snaps our ot if. She began to stalk him as he did in the
beginning. Ingrid wouold break into Barry s house and drag Astrid with her. Ingrid feels happier
with her hatred for Barry than for her past love for him. Isn t it funny. I m enjoying hatred so
much more than I ever enjoyed love. Love is tempermental. Tiring. It makes demands. Love uses
you. Changes it s mind…But hatred, nw. That s something you can use. Sculpt. Wield. It s hard
or soft, however you need itLove humiliates you, but hatred cradles you. It s so soothing. I feel
infinitly better now.
They drove down to Tijuana and Ingrid bought a mass amount d a drug at a mexican
pharmacy. This drug helped the poisonous oleander seep through. Ingrid mixed the two and broke
into his house. She painted the mixture all over his things. When he touched it he would be
injected witha bit of poison each time. Ingrid was arrested and charged with the murder of
Barrywhen Astrid was 12.The next six years of Astrid s like she would be in foster care, while her
mother sat in jail justifying herself.
Her first placement was with a woman named Starr, her boyfriend Ray, her birth son and
daughter Davey and Carolee, and foster kids Owen and Peter. After a while in the house Ray and
Astrid began to be attracted to each other. At this point Astrid is 12 years old. Starr dressed
Astrid up to look like her, cheap and outragous. Ray was a good frind and a comfort when Starr
was not around. She finished eighth grade there. Astrid went through a phase while she was living
there where she profusely believed in God and giving to him, not unto yourself. This lasted until
her and Ray finally gave into their desires and made love. And I thought, there was no God,
there was only what you wanted.
Starr threatened to kick her out, she felt that something was going on, that she was going
to steel her man. Astrid threatened her so Starr kept her around. Ray and Astrid would smoke
pot together. Ingrid wrote ad preached to Astrid about the way that she should be and constantly
sending her titles of books to read. Starr knew something was going on between them she started
to drink again. In one of her fits she broke little Davey s arm and Davey made them promise not
to tell the people at the hospital who had done it. After this Starr went back into recovery.
One evening Ray could not perform in bed with Starr. Starr started to accuse him of
sleeping with Astrid. Astrid was sitting in her rom listening thrugh the wall, she knew it was true.
Starr came in with a gun and aimlessly shot at Astrid, no one was hurt. Ray got her out and tried
to talk some sense into her. Starr came back, Astrid tried to get out the window. Starr shot her in
the hip and shoulder. She was left there for dead, but little Davey stayed instead of running away
with his mother. He saved Astrid s life. Astrid went to the hospital and recuperated there until a
new placement could be found.
Ed and marvel Turlock were her next real family, here she finished 9th grade. She was
there to work, to be a slave. Her job was to babysit, clean dishes, do launsry, be a beautition, and
anything else they could think of. When she left the hospital they gave her 30 days of percodan.
She doubled it and had to get back to real life when she ran out. She contemplated suicide, and
she would have if it hadn t been for her mother. Found a book titled The Art of Survival. This
was going to become her bible, her religion. The least she could ask of herself was to survive.
Marvel is somewhat racist. There is a neighbor she always sees and calls a black whore, but not to
her face. Astrid started to be friends with the neighbor, Olivia.
Astrid became obsessed with Olivia. They became good friends. One day while Astrid was
watching the kids in the park she saw a bunch of boys smoking pot. They offered to give her a
half bag of weed if she gave one of them a blow job, she did it because Olivia did. Olivia and her
took day trips and did things together, Marvel never knew. She started 10th grade there. The boys
blew her kisses because they heard what she would do. She came home one day and Olivia was
gone without telling her. While she was outside walking around dogs attacked her and left her
brutally scared and injured. She was glad the pain would show. In a perverse way, I was glad for
the stitches, glad it would show, that there would be scarsWhat was the point in just being hurt
on the inside?
Olivia returned and no Christmas eve while Marvel and Ed were having a christamas party
she went over there. They talked and drank. The next morning when she was walking out Marvel
saw her. She beat her and a few weeks later Astrid s case worker showed up at school. She was
going somewhere new. Her new mother s name was Amelia. She had three other foster girls. The
reason that she got them was for them to work. They would starve and the only meal they had
was dinner, which was small too. Finally after a lot of pleading and a new caseworker who didn t
hate her she got a new placement.
Her next home was a dream come true. She had Claire and Ron, and no other children but
herself. When she got there Ron was out on a business trip so her and Claire got to have bonding
time. They got along great without Ron and when it was time for him to come home she started
to resent him even though she had never met him.
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