A Mother in Mannville Questions and Answers
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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How do the narrator's first impressions of Jerry's ability in "A Mother in Mannville," by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, change?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narrator's first impressions of Jerry are none too encouraging. He comes across as such a slight, scrawny creature—certainly not someone you'd think would be any good at chopping wood. Yet when Jerry gets that ax in his hand, the narrator changes her tune completely. She's greatly impressed by the young orphan's hard-working, positive attitude. What's more, she's pleasantly surprised to find that such a small boy is capable of chopping wood, something she never thought possible in one so young and so little.

In due course, the narrator will continue to be impressed, not just by Jerry's work ethic, but also his politeness and punctuality. The narrator also feels that she can trust him, so much so that she gives him the responsibility of looking after her cabin and her dog.

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kathik eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In "A Mother in Mannville," by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the narrator is a writer who is staying in a cabin that belongs to a nearby orphanage. She asks for a boy to do some work for her while she is there--someone to chop wood for the fire especially. When the boy, Jerry, shows up, she is not impressed. He is small in stature, and the narrator does not think he will be strong enough to chop wood. She expects him to do a poor job.

"I visualized mangled and inadequate branches for my fires." (Rawlings 2)

Jerry, though, surprises her. When he finishes up and comes back to the cabin to let her know he has to get back to the orphanage, she finds a large stack of wood, which she realizes is an amount that a man might have done. Jerry has chosen the wood carefully, and his work is excellent. The narrator definitely underestimated Jerry and is now very pleased with him.

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