A Critical Study Of Mae Cameron Essay

, Research Paper

A Critical Study of Mae Cameron

In Margaret Laurence?s novel a Jest of God, Mae Cameron plays a critical

role in the development of the main character as well as the plot.

Mae Cameron?s fear of isolation in turn causes Rachel not to develop as a

person. Mae is so worried about being left alone that she will stop at nothing

to keep Rachel by her side. Mae Cameron isolates Rachel physically by keeping

her home on bridge nights to serve refreshments to her friends, ?Well, dear

you do what you think best. I?d never suggested you shouldn?t go. Only on a

bridge night- well, never mind. We?ll just have to stop playing while I do the

serving, that?s all?(Laurence 106). Mae isolates Rachel emotionally by

trying to control her relationship with Nick. She tells Rachel how inappropriate

it is to date a Ukrainian and at that, the milkman?s son. Mae is most

defiantly unwilling to let Rachel arrive at her own decisions ? Rachel, do you

think you should go out this evening dear? It?s up to you, of course dear, but

I would have thought what with getting back to school and everything?(Laurence

178). Mae is always second guessing Rachel and trying to make her feel guilty,

so she will choose to do her bidding. Rachel in all accounts doesn?t feel like

she has a say over her own life. This is why a women of 34 is still living at

home with her mother and staying home on bridge nights to serve refreshments.

God and religion play a large role not only in the lives of Mae and Rachel

but it also gives insight into their true beliefs. Mae Cameron attends a very

structured and ridged Presbyterian Church every Sunday where nothing ever goes

array. Where as Mae is deathly afraid of the Tabernacle because it does not have

a structured ceremony. People are proclaiming their faith for all to hear,

others are receiving the gift of tongues and the sound of guitars and drums can

be heard playing in the church. Without structure Mae feels unsure of the

situation and that instills fear in her. Mae Cameron is the only reason Rachel

even attends church. Rachel is unsure of her faith and only attends the

Presbyterian Church to please her mother. There is strong evidence to support

the theory that Mae only attends church to be socially accepted in the town. For

example she speaks to Naill about not going to church, ?It isn?t very nice

Naill for a man in your position not to go?(Laurence 89). In this exchange

there is only the implication that not going to church may be frowned upon by

the towns? people, but strangely enough there is no mention of how this act

would be interpreted by God.

Mae Cameron is responsible for Rachel?s journey from adolescence to

adulthood. Mae is to blame for Rachel?s lack of acquaintances by making her

feel guilty every time she tries to leave the house. Mae continually treats

Rachel as a child by always second guessing her decisions. Mae is unwilling to

let Rachel grow as a person in fear that she will become independent and create

her own life that does not include an aging mother. Mae reasons that if she

makes Rachel feel like a child she will be incapable of independent thought and

therefor unable to survive on her own.

The theme of communication is one that really adds insight into the

relationship between Mae and Rachel. Communication between the two is not of

choice but of routine. When they converse there is no substance behind what they

are saying, ?walk slowly dear, but hurry back? (Laurence 175) is an excerpt

from typical conversation between the two. They will chat about nothing and they

are quite content to do so, partly because after years of living together they

are incapable of breaking away from their exchanges of hollow dialogue. The only

time they do voice opinions is when they are discussing matters other than their

own or when Mae is giving Rachel advice on how to live her life. The lack of

communication between the two is the major factor resulting in Rachel?s inner

voice. Rachel feels like she has no one else that she can turn to so instead she

decides to deliberate questions she has with herself.

Mae?s inability in allowing Rachel to develop as a social being has been

detrimental to her growth. Rachel has missed out on her formative years of

learning about life and is only now beginning to grow and develop as a

self-directed individual.


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