In The Hours, how is Kitty important to Laura?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Hours, Laura Brown is a disaffected 1950s housewife struggling with her role in that era's culture and her real feelings of depression and loneliness. After reading Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway, she attempts to be more involved with her family's life and bakes a cake for her husband's birthday; the cake is ordinary instead of incredible, and she becomes more depressed. Kitty, a neighbor's wife, visits, and in their shared sadness -- Kitty seems unable to bear children -- they share a moment of powerful intimacy:

They are both afflicted and blessed, full of shared secrets, striving every moment. They are each impersonating someone. They are weary and beleagured, they have taken on such enormous work. Kitty lifts her face and their lips touch.
(Cunningham, The Hours, Google Books)

Because both Kitty and Laura are tasked with living the stereotype -- normal in the 1950s -- of simple and loving housewives, they share depression and thankless tasks, knowing each other to be similar. Laura loves Kitty because she understands intimately how much she struggles with her life and husband, who is not fully appreciative; even their pregnancy problems are placed on her, without even the consideration that he may be impotent. Laura sees Kitty as an extension of herself, and unconscious wishes, even as her rational self takes control, that they could be together instead of with their real families.