How is the theme of mothers wanting a better life for their children developed in Chapter 7 of Fever 1793?

Quick answer:

Anderson develops the theme that mothers often want a better life for their children in chapter 7 by having Mrs. Cook take Mattie to tea at the wealthy and snobbish Mrs. Ogilvie's home. Mother hopes that if Mattie can continue to be invited to this house, she will meet a well-to-do man to marry.

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In this chapter, Mother takes time out of her busy schedule to accept an invitation for her and Matilda to have tea with the wealthy Ogilvies. This involves digging a better dress for Mattie out of an old trunk and doing up her hair. As they get get ready to leave, Mrs. Cook's words set the theme for the chapter:

"You might turn out to be a beauty after all," she said. "You've grown so quickly. I want the best for you."

As Mattie understands, Mother hopes that by keeping up ties with the wealthy Ogilivies, she will put Mattie in a position to marry a wealthy young man. In the eighteenth century, this would be the logical focus of a mother who wanted a better life for her daughter, as marriage was the most acceptable way for a young woman to climb up the class ladder. Mrs. Cook is calculating that Mattie's looks might offset the family's lack of wealth.

Mother is willing in this chapter to endure an uncomfortable tea with the snobbish Mrs. Ogilvie and her daughters in order to try to help Mattie get ahead in life. If Mattie is able to become a regular visitor at the Ogilvies, she will likely meet young men from a wealthier class.

Mattie and Mother are, however, both uncomfortable at the Ogilvie home. Anderson uses this opportunity, too, to have Colette, one of the Ogilvie daughters, dramatically collapse with cholera as the chapter ends, showing that the disease does not pay attention to class boundaries.

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