Student Question

Do Miss Brill's plaza observations sustain her?

Quick answer:

Yes, Miss Brill's regular observations help her sustain herself, especially regarding her mental health, and give her something to look forward to.

Expert Answers

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Miss Brill is a great character despite how most readers eventually come to pity her. She doesn't have a roaring social life, but that doesn't stop her from going out in public and enjoying being in the presence of other people. She lives for her Sundays. They sustain her and give her a reason to live, and readers see initial evidence of this in the story's opening paragraph, when we are told that she is pleased with her outfit choice. She's going out, and she wants to look good.

The story continues, and readers see that Miss Brill is in her "special" seat. Not only is she in her special seat, but she is also looking forward to the conversation that she overhears when sitting in her special seat. Miss Brill typically finds her Sunday activity "interesting," and she was disappointed by the previous week's lack of excitement. Readers get the feeling that Miss Brill is especially excited for the potential that exists within this particular week.

All of those previous details are minor compared to the information readers are given at just about the midpoint of the story. The narrator states with excitement that Miss Brill "loved sitting here." She finds it "fascinating." Miss Brill enjoys it. We are told that the people around her are all actors within a play that she finds herself an integral part of. Miss Brill even believes that she has a part to play, and that is why she comes every Sunday:

Even she had a part and came every Sunday. No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there; she was a part of the performance after all.

Notice how Miss Brill believes that her presence is needed. She somehow believes that if she were not present, something would go wrong. She enjoys being in the park, and that sustains her in a way. People partake in enjoyable hobbies because they help maintain mental health, but people also find fulfillment and meaning from knowing that other people depend on them. They feel accomplished by serving other people, and that is how Miss Brill sees her Sunday outings. She lives for them, and this idea gives her weekly motivation to come back.

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