Kindly send the short summary of Mary Gordon's "The Company of Women."

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When we meet Felicitas, she is 14 and has been raised by her mother, her mother's four friends and Father Cyprian. Cyprian has  high expectations for Felicitas and thinks she is too good for marriage. He sees her as a tomboy, a teacher, and a “celibate forger of souls.” He wants her to someday carry on his half-failed priesthood: ''She won't throw her life away on some man. She has too much work to do.''  

Felicitas rebels against all of the people who have raised her by leaving a Catholic college to enter Columbia. She rebels and begins resenting that ''appointed meal of bone and water'' that she feels has been her life with them. ''The lives of the women she loved were bankrupt ... making do with God and each other.  They have followed, Father Cyprian, who had won their loyalty not through honorableness, but through fear. ...'' She begins an affair with a Columbia professor and begins to fail her classes. Her rebellion ends when she becomes pregnant and, with Father Cyprian's blessing, returns to her mother and her mother's friends to have her baby.

In 1977, Felicitas is raising her daughter among this holier-than-thou community, willfully resigning herself to the fact that, “her life will have been a long decline from having been a clever girl.'' Because she needs to have a father for her child, eventually marries a docile Catholic hardware dealer in whom she enjoys ''a slowness so complete I marvel that his hands work.''

Read the study guide:
The Company of Women

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