What roles do the women play in Mystic River?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For the most part, the women of the novel have to end up dealing with the realities that the men in thier lives have constructed.  Celeste is an example of this.  She is an individual who lives in the world that Dave has constructed.  She is not one to upset this world, but Dave's demons, that preclude his own sense of openness with himself and, by extension her, helps to influence her decision to share with Jimmy what she thinks.  In this, one can see that her own autonomy is left in the shadow of her husband.  When she recognizes what she has done, it is too late to change course, and must live with the consequences of what another man, Jimmy, has constructed for her.  For her part, Annabeth, who detests weakness, asserts her own autonomy in the best way she can in that she lives in the world that Jimmy constructs for her, but empowers herself by keeping everyone at a distance.  When she understands what Jimmy is going to do to Dave, she opts to remain silent because she reads Dave's presence as weakness.  She would rather live with the elimination of Dave than do anything to stop it for she believes that she must live within the insulated and strong world that Jimmy has created for her.  In this, the women of the novel are ones who must live with the reality that men have created for them.  Their assertion of voice is done within this context, and is not done to disrupt it.

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