Type of Document Thesis Author Kotaska, Danielle Ann URN etd-04062004-151553 Title The Way of Mothers and Other Stories Degree Master of Arts Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Elizabeth Stuckey-French Committee Chair Andrew Epstein Committee Member Robert Olen Butler Committee Member Keywords
- Conjoined Twins
Date of Defense 2004-03-22 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis work is a collection of short stories entitled The Way of Mothers. This collection consists of four stories that were originally produced in writing workshops and two stories that I wrote on my own.
I have heard many times a quote attributed to Flannery O’Connor which states that if you survive your childhood, you have enough writing material to last your entire adulthood. I have found in my time in Florida State University’s writing program that my childhood not only affects the content of my writing, but also the way I see things as a writer and as a person. That is, the things that are important to me and stir me to write are the very things that played an important role in my life as a child.
I am an only child who was raised by my single mother and her family. This extended family was ripe with strong women: two aunts, my grandmother, and both older and younger cousins. I was continually aware that the bonds between sisters, mothers, and daughters shaped every aspect of life. As I approach my final semester in the writing program, I am not surprised that most of my writing (and more importantly all of my best writing) explores the relationships between mothers and daughters.
The stories that I have chosen to revise and include in The Way of Mothers celebrate how varied and dynamic the relationships between mothers and daughters can be. Each story took me in a different direction to a pocket of life that fascinates me. What unites the stories is their reliance on the mother-daughter bond to shape character, action, or point of view.
The title story takes place in Baltimore in 1915 and tells the story of a pregnant teenager who seeks refuge in a maternity ward run by nuns. In this story I would like to concentrate on language use, especially musicality. The relationship between the Mother Superior and the teenage girl is entwined in their mutual love for opera music.
Six-Chambered Heart reveals the emotional turmoil of a mother who must make decisions regarding the health of her conjoined twin babies. In Parts, a rape survivor moves back in with her parents and finds it difficult to reconcile her life at home and the life she creates in therapy sessions. The Card Store Owner shows how a mother’s obsession to control her family can reach to every part of her life.
I have been told many times to “write what you know.” In some sense, one could say I have not followed this advice, seeing as the aforementioned stories involve situations and places I can only imagine. However, I believe it is the intense love and loyalty a mother feels for her daughter and vice versa that drives the characters and actions in these stories, and that is something I know a lot about.
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