Why does Jerry fabricate a story about a mother in Mannville?

Quick answer:

In the short story "A Mother in Mannville," Jerry might have made up the story about having a mother in Mannville before he met the narrator as a daydream to help alleviate his loneliness. He might also have made up the story to impress the narrator or to share his longings with her after he begins to trust her.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The short story "A Mother in Mannville" is narrated by a writer who has gone to a remote location in the Carolina mountains to work on a story. The cabin she rents is on the property of an orphanage, and a twelve-year-old boy named Jerry shows up to help her with wood chopping and other chores. Gradually, as the narrator shows him kindness, she and Jerry become close, and Jerry also gets along well with the narrator's dog, Pat. Jerry is obviously starving for love, and he thrives on the attention that the narrator gives him.

Jerry and the narrator are sitting before a fire one evening when he tells her about his mother. He claims that she lives nearby, in Mannville, visits him sometimes, and sends him presents. The narrator becomes indignant and wonders how the mother could have abandoned such a sweet and special boy. We only discover at the end that Jerry has made up the story about his mother and that in fact he does not have a mother.

There are several reasons why Jerry might have made up the story about his mother. First of all, he might have fabricated the story as a sort of daydream long before the narrator arrived. Imagining a make-believe mother who is only temporarily away might have helped him cope with the loneliness of being an orphan who in reality has no family. Alternatively, he might have made up the story because he is ashamed of his status as an orphan and wants to impress and reassure the narrator. His motivation may also be a combination of the two: he daydreams of having a mother, and he shares his daydream with the narrator as if it is fact when he begins to trust her.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial