The narrator, a young Austrian writer whose mother has recently committed suicide. He is in his early thirties. His mother’s death comes as a shock, and he deals with his grief by attempting to write a memoir, a chronicle of her life. He struggles with the problems of writing this difficult book, that is, with both his own painful feelings and the inherent tendency of all language to fictionalize—and therefore distort—its subject. He is committed to trying to write the most honest and authentic account of her life and death that he can. He reflects on the various strategies that he might pursue in composing this work; finally, he decides to look at the kind of language used to describe a woman’s life—a typical woman’s biography—and to see the ways in which his mother’s life is both similar to and different from that of the prototypical woman. He composes a sensitive and touching portrait of his mother but is unable, in the end, to overcome the horror of her death. He is left with his guilt and anxiety.
The narrator’s mother
The narrator’s mother, an Austrian woman born in the early 1920’s. She is an intelligent and good-looking woman with a winning smile. Her existence is, in certain crucial ways, dictated by the traditional expectations and limitations imposed on a female’s life by the rural and conservative society into which she is born. Although she does well in school, she is...
(The entire section is 414 words.)