Mrs. Caliban

by Rachel Ingalls

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

To best answer your question, I will select several important quotes from Rachel Ingalls's Mrs. Caliban and then explain what each quote means and how they fit into the story.

The first important quote worthy of interrogation comes when Dorothy first meets Larry:

And she was halfway across the checked linoleum floor of her nice safe kitchen, when the screen door opened and a gigantic six-foot-seven-inch frog-like creature shouldered its way into the house and stood stock-still in front of her, crouching slightly, and staring straight at her face.

This quote juxtaposes the mundane life Dorothy leads with the fantastic appearance of an otherworldly creature. While Dorothy was simply cooking like she always does, she is confronted by the sudden and surreal entrance of Larry, an improbably-real monster man.

The way Ingalls describes Larry's appearance is similarly commonplace; Larry is "staring straight" at her face, as if Dorothy should be unmoved by his essentially breaking in to her home. Dorothy's lack of a reaction is also absurd and suggests that the fantastic and the realistic are interchangeable in the story.

Another quote worthy of discussion comes from a mundane exchange between Dorothy and her divorced friend Estelle:

If we all only owned the things we needed! You don't understand the nature of desire.

Estelle says this in response to Dorothy's assertion that a dress Estelle likes is impractical. Estelle is really only talking about how interesting it would be to have such a dramatic, frivolous piece in her wardrobe, but the quote takes on deeper significance within the context of the story as a whole.

Dorothy's life has largely been ruled by matters of what is necessary and practical. She has never indulged her desire for more than just what she merely needs, something that she finally changes when Larry appears. Dorothy sees desire as a luxury from which she must remain excluded, which is why she remains in her unhappy marriage despite Estelle's insistence that she pursue a divorce. Dorothy's values prevent her from doing selfish things, including pursuing happiness for herself.

The following quote comes from the point after which Dorothy discovers that Larry is wanted for the murder of two people he killed while escaping from the research facility in which he was studied:

It sailed beyond her, improbable and romantic, following in the blue sky the course she was taking down below. It seemed to her that it must be a good omen.

This quote describes a beautiful cloud that Dorothy sees on the night she finds out about Larry's violent actions. Instead of being repulsed, however, Dorothy is brimming with love and hope, which is echoed in the gorgeous imagery described in this passage.

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