Crow Lake

by Mary Lawson

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Analyze Kate's guilt in the novel Crow Lake.

Quick answer:

Kate is racked by guilt throughout Crow Lake. This stems from her unease at what she sees as taking advantage of an opportunity—namely, going to college—that her brothers Luke and Matt turned down.

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Virtually all of the characters in Mary Lawson's Crow Lake have to live with guilt to some extent. But one could say that Kate experiences greater and more persistent feelings of guilt than anyone else.

To a large extent, this is because she feels that she has taken advantage of an opportunity—going to college—that was turned down by her brothers Matt and Luke. Luke himself stayed at home instead of going to college precisely because he too would've felt guilty had he taken Matt's opportunity.

But it was Kate who went to college, and though she's become a renowned zoologist and is enjoying considerable success in her professional life, she cannot help but feel guilty of having availed herself of an opportunity she feels really belonged to her brothers. She also feels some measure of guilt over Matt's accident, even though she had absolutely nothing to do with it.

As one can imagine, Kate's guilt has a negative impact on her life. Unable to come to terms with it, she can never truly be at peace with herself.

In the event, however, she has no need to feel guilty at all. As Matt's wife, Marie, tells her, Kate is the only one who's ever expressed any regret over how things have turned out. Given that guilt always has more to do with perception than reality, however, Marie's words will take a long time to sink in and have a positive effect on Kate.

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