We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

by Karen Joy Fowler
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What is Rosemary’s most significant motivating force, and how does it shape her character in We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves?

Rosemary's most significant motivating force is to find her missing brother and sister, despite the fact that her "sister" is actually a chimpanzee. This shapes her character by making her unable to feel true happiness or fulfilment until she is reunited with Lowell and Fern.

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I would argue that Rosemary's most significant motivating force is the desire to see her sister, Fern, who disappeared when they were five years old. Rosemary considers Fern to have been her twin, and it is not until later in the novel that we learn Fern was in fact a...

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I would argue that Rosemary's most significant motivating force is the desire to see her sister, Fern, who disappeared when they were five years old. Rosemary considers Fern to have been her twin, and it is not until later in the novel that we learn Fern was in fact a chimpanzee. Fern had to be sent away because she was growing bigger and stronger, and it therefore wasn't safe for Rosemary's scientist parents to keep Fern in the house with Rosemary and her older (human) brother, Lowell.

In their younger years, Rosemary and Fern had been exceptionally close. They had been able to communicate effectively and shared a special sibling bond. It seems that despite their difference in species, Rosemary was closer to Fern as a child than she was to Lowell. The fact that she didn't notice that her sister was so remarkably different to her is indicative of their closeness. To make things worse, Lowell blamed Rosemary for Fern's disappearance and ran away from home.

Rosemary's most significant motivating force is to find out what happened to her siblings. This is why she decided to study at UC Davis, because the last sighting of her brother had been there. It turns out that Lowell is looking for Rosemary too, and when the two reunite, Rosemary learns that Fern had been sent to a lab. It is only when she starts regularly visiting Fern that Rosemary begins to feel at ease. Having reconnected with her brother, she also instigates a new relationship with her parents.

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