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One contrast between the narrator and her mother is that the narrator prefers comfortable situations, as compared with her mother. This could be as a result of having a superbly protective mother. Her mother, on the other hand, is quite at home in dangerous situations. She made her living as a trapeze artist. And when she goes blind later in life, the narrator adds that " . . . my mother lives comfortably in extreme elements. She is one with the constant dark now, just as the air was her home, familiar to her, safe, before the storm that afternoon."
The narrator recalls her own life as a failure. There is no mention as to what her mother thinks of her own life. But as a successful, blindfolded trapeze artist who has raised a family and learned to read later in life, we can only assume that she (the mother) was satisfied with her own life.
One thing, the main thing, they have in common with each other is dedication to one another. The mother saves her daughter's life three times, according to the daughter. And when the mother goes blind, it is the daughter who returns to read to her. "I came home to read to my mother, to read out loud, read long into the dark if I must, to read all night."
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