What is the source of conflict between Dolores and her mom in She's Come Undone, and how does this conflict contribute to the novel as a whole? 

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

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I would say that one of the basic sources of conflict between Dolores and her mom is a lack of emotional connection.  On some levels, the television that "would be the beginning of our family's unraveling," is representative of the gulf which exists between them.  At the earliest of stages, when Dolores was in need of emotional guidance, her mother could not give it.  Whether it was the preoccupation with Anthony, Jr., the postpartum depression that resulted from it, the love that Ma had towards Petey, and the nervous breakdown that happened when Dolores's father left, were all instances of a child who needed love and could not receive it.  To a great extent, Dolores learned to exist without her mother from an emotional standpoint.  This lack of emotional support becomes some of the basic conflict between mother and daughter. When Dolores endures her first period, her mother can only see how it impacts her.  Dolores and her mother are incapable of being able to fully overcome the emotional gulf that exists between them.  It is this emotional chasm that prevents Dolores from being able to gain insight from her mother on boys, is part of the reason why she continues to watch television, and represents the basic antagonism between both of them.  The lack of emotional nurturing that takes place at the start of the narrative contributes to the basic relationship between mother and daughter that exists throughout it.

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