Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 375

There are many themes in the novel Where'd You Go, Bernadette? written by Maria Semple. Some of the themes in the novel are family, friendships, and the importance of the truth.

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Throughout the novel, the Fox/Branch family struggles with important issues. For example, Bernadette Fox and her husband, Elgin Branch, have marital issues that result in an affair. Bernadette has also had several miscarriages that cause her to hardly leave the house and to overprotect her daughter. As the story develops, Bee Branch learns the secrets of her family. She devotes her life to finding her mother and making sure that she is alive. This story shows that the bond of a family can be stronger than the issues within the same family.

Another theme in this novel is friendship. Bernadette struggles with making friends because she does not often leave her house, she is seen as "weird" by other mothers, and she also fights with other mothers she knows—especially a woman named Audrey. This woman eventually becomes Bernadette's only friend and helps her escape to Antarctica after piecing together important parts of Bernadette's life. Bee also struggles with making friends. Bee only has one true friend, a girl named Kennedy. This story shows that friends are important in life because they can be a support system when family is failing.

A third theme in this novel is the theme of telling the truth. Many times, the truth is stretched, twisted, or ignored. One example of this is when Soo-Lin, the woman who has an affair with Bernadette's husband, tells him that his wife is crazy and that she should be hospitalized. This lie adds to the marital tension between Elgin and Bernadette. Other lies are present in this story and can be seen through Bernadette's relationship with her family and their lack of honest communication. After all, she lies to them when she runs away to Antarctica. This theme shows that lying is not an answer to problems. The only way to cope with issues is to deal with the underlying reasons for the issues.

This story stresses the importance of telling the truth, having friendships, and believing that family relationships are important and can help rescue people in times of need.

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