How did the narrator feel about Jerry lying in the short story "A Mother in Mannville"?
The narrator doesn't find out the truth until the last line of the story, spoken by Miss Clark. Readers can make a reasonable inference on how she might have reacted, based on the evidence given in the text.
First, the narrator was hugely impressed with Jerry's integrity. She describes integrity as a rare quality that is "bedded on courage, but it is more than brave. It is honest, but it is more than honest." The narrator uses her observations of Jerry's work ethic and her interactions with him conversationally to arrive at the conclusion that he possesses this special quality. When the ax handle breaks, he offers to pay for it. He goes above and beyond the agreed upon time frame in caring for Pat when the narrator is away.
When Jerry tells the narrator that he has a mother in Mannville who comes to see him every summer and buys him gifts, she is incensed. She says:
"His quality must be apparent to an idiot, a fool. I burned with questions I could not ask. In any case, I was afraid, there would be pain. 'Have you seen her, Jerry--lately?'
'I see her every summer. She sends for me.'
I wanted to cry out, 'Why are you not with her? How can she let you go again?'"
From these examples, readers can see that the narrator values honesty and integrity. She also values this young boy, and cannot find a valid reason in her mind why a mother would leave a son like Jerry. Using these examples as evidence, one could make a reasonable inference as to how the narrator would feel knowing that Jerry has lied to her. The question that remains is would she have been able to look past the lie and into the reason he had for lying in the first place?
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