Themes and Characters
The narrator of Missing May is Summer, a girl who has had a difficult life. She does not remember her parents, although she believes her mother must have loved her, "otherwise, how could I even recognize love when I saw it that night between Ob and May?" She was passed around from relative to relative, never receiving much care or love, until she was about six years old; then May and Ob took her in. She is understandably very insecure, and for much of Missing May, she is afraid that she will once again be unloved and a burden to her relatives. This fear creates much of the tension of the book; it is well motivated, with Ob's self-destructive behavior giving it urgency. On the other hand, Summer is not given to self-pity; her narrative never whines, instead maintaining a matter-of-fact tone that helps make Summer an attractive and interesting character.
Ob is an elderly man who had a passionately loving marriage with May. Her acceptance of him and his eccentricities was an important part of his life. With May's death seems to come a host of insecurities for Ob, and he is not sure that he can live without her. Summer wishes she could replace May for Ob, but sensibly realizes that she could never be May. Most of the events of the novella are motivated by Ob's obsession with contacting the spirit of his dead wife, and he even claims that she visited him at the trailer a couple of times after her death. His grief is eased somewhat by Summer's...
(The entire section is 1483 words.)
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