The Homesick Garden, Themes Essay, Research Paper
The Homesick Garden By, Kate Cruise O Brien
The Homesick Garden by Kate Cruise O Brien was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It tells the story of the life of a teenage girl, Antonia, whose life is turned upside down by the unexpected pregnancy of her unmarried aunt, Grace. The novel explores many controversial issues, including, alcoholism and child abuse. The story is told through the eyes of Antonia.
Isolation:The theme of isolation is vividly captured in this novel. Antonia is fifteen years of age. She lives with just her parents, as she is an only child. Antonia says she is surrounded by little pools of loneliness at home. Although Antonia said she quite likes it really , I think that being an only child must be very lonely for her. This is especially true since she has no friends of her own age.
Having no friends doesn t seem to matter to Antonia, except at lunch-time in school, which must be the worst for her. Antonia said that lunch-time was a friend time , which is why she spent every lunch-time at the library on her own. Antonia still enjoyed school. She found it comforting to see people I hardly knew and didn t care about. They were little people in Antonia s mind, her family were the big people in her life.
Everyone needs a friend and because Antonia lacks teenage friendships, she turns to adults. Antonia has only one true friend, her aunt. Aunt Grace is my best friend and mentor. Antonia s grandmother says she is too fond of Grace. Antonia understands adults, and in a way, she has to. She knows her parents very well, especially her mother. Antonia s mother tells her everything; this is what makes their relationship so strong. Mum is quick-witted until she decides not to be and Mum s silences are angry, noisy, clattering affairs. These quotes show how well Antonia knows her mother, proving that her mother is more than a parent to her, she is a close friend of whom Antonia relies on, considering she has no friends her own age to lean on.
Antonia makes a friend nearing the end of the novel, I think he made her feel much less cut off from her own generation.
The theme of loneliness and isolation is also evident with Grace in the novel; she is an unmarried mother-to-be and worst of all, she s unattached .Grace has nobody, so she locks herself away in her apartment. Grace was not the sort of person who wanted sympathy. She hid herself away from everyone to sort of get the most of being on her own before the baby came. Grace hoped that the baby would be like Antonia, a friend, rather than like everyone else, intruders. Isolation is also captured within Antonia s mother in the lines I ve wanted to disappear all my life. If Grace has managed it then why should I stop her?
The author, Kate Cruise O Brien, has dealt with the theme of isolation very skilfully during the course of this novel, mainly through the use of dialogue.
Conflict:The second distinct theme that the author deals with is conflict. Much of the conflict in the novel is due to Antonia s mother s drinking problem. Elizabeth is portrayed by the author as an alcoholic. References to her in the novel often describe her as with a glass of brandy in hand. This alcoholism is the cause of much friction in her marriage. This quote sums up what I have been implying there was a lot of door-slamming and talk about drinking (Mum s) and indifference (Dad s) and when I passed mum on the stairs she was crying but I noticed she had a small glass in one hand and her cigarettes and lighter in the other.
The root of Elizabeth s alcohol and cigarette addiction comes from her childhood, when she was seven. Her neighbour sexually abused her. The consequences of these actions were felt years afterwards, until then, she had tried to tell herself that nothing really happened, but once she told somebody about it, she felt a strange sort of relief. Maybe if she had done that sooner, she wouldn t need so much comfort. Mum needs a lot of comfort in one way or another, what with the cigarettes and the brandy.
The author shows conflict between Elizabeth and her husband. Antonia s father is aware of Elizabeth s problems, they often argue about it. Her husband tries to protect her. He always offers Aunt Grace another glass of wine even if she s tipsy. If it s mum, he carefully corks the bottle and glares. When she complains, she just gets a you are my wife and therefore my responsibility.
There is more conflict in the novel between Grandma and Elizabeth. Grandma bullied mum in a bad way . Sometimes I d like to strangle her said Elizabeth. There is also conflict between Elizabeth and
Grace. Antonia thinks that sometimes Dad likes Grace more than Mum.