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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 575

Maman and Christine go to see Christine's much older sister, Georgianna, and attempt to compel her to break off her wedding. However, she will not, and the pair must return home having failed. Before they leave, Maman tells Georgianna,

"Poor Georgianna . . . you talk of love as though...

(The entire section contains 575 words.)

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Maman and Christine go to see Christine's much older sister, Georgianna, and attempt to compel her to break off her wedding. However, she will not, and the pair must return home having failed. Before they leave, Maman tells Georgianna,

"Poor Georgianna . . . you talk of love as though it would last. . . . But when it goes . . . if there is nothing to take its place . . . it's horrible!"

Throughout the novel, we might wonder about the relationship between the narrator's mother and father. Though they have had nine children together, they do not seem happy. Though they seem to care a lot about one another, it does not always seem like love. Perhaps Maman offers this advice as a result of her own experience, and it seems like good advice. Those who are young often believe that "love can conquer all," but, often, in real life, it cannot. Sadly, this is something people often have to learn on their own and cannot simply imbibe from others' experience.

Sometimes growing up seems to happen quite slowly, and other times, we seem to make big leaps all at once. When Christine contracts the whooping cough and becomes severely sickened and weakened, she spends a lot of time recuperating from the illness. She sees other children playing and laughing, and she says,

Then it seems to me that I drew far away from all such things, that at a bound I outgrew what people call a stage in one's life. . . . During that interval I discovered almost all the things in nature I have never since ceased to hold dear. . . . And why had no one told me that running, skipping rope, walking on stilts, climbing about in barns were merely vulgar games, soon stale and outworn? . . . For—and did I not know it from the beginning?—the hammock in the wind, the glass music, the hand that pushed the hammock—had I even a right to survive all this happiness?

Something changes in Christine when she becomes ill and is taken out of her normal, daily routine. She now appreciates the beauty of nature and the serenity and happiness to be found in simply watching the leaves dance from underneath the tree. She learns that there are greater happinesses than jumping rope, and things affect her much more deeply now.

Another important lesson in growing up is one that Christine learns from her mother. Always having seen her mother as only her mother, her view of the woman becomes much more nuanced when they take a long trip together. She says,

Maman told me she still longed to be free; she told me that what died last in the human heart must be the liking for freedom; that even suffering and misfortune did not wear thin within her this inclination toward liberty.

It is difficult for Christine to accept this changed view of her mother. She is irritated that her mother would long for any fulfillment other than being a wife and mother. She says, "Probably I wanted to hold captive those I loved, but I wanted them happy in their captivity." This seems quite human: this longing for others to want to be with us and only us. It is also challenging for a child to develop an understanding of her parents as people, rather than simply as her parents. All of these perceptions contribute to the formation of Christine's own identity as a young woman and her understanding of the world.

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