Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret Chapter 23 Summary

Judy Blume

Chapter 23 Summary

Not long after the other grandparents leave, Margaret hears a knock at the door. On the doorstep she finds Grandma, her father's mother. Grandma hugs a delighted Margaret and then introduces a friend, Morris Binamen. When Grandma says his name, Mr. Binamen adds, “Rhymes with cinnamon.” This appeals to Margaret, who also likes Mr. Binamen’s moustache and black glasses. He is tan from the Florida sun, and he acts very gentlemanly.

When the introductions are over, Grandma asks Margaret where the other grandparents are. Margaret explains that they have already left, and Grandma and Mr. Binamen exchange “a secret look.” They explain that they decided to come for a visit in case Margaret needed backup.

Margaret does not understand why she would need backup until Grandma asks whether the other grandparents tried to rope Margaret into going to church. When Margaret admits they did—and that she did not go—Grandma seems triumphant. In her mind, this is proof that Margaret has taken the Jewish side in the family’s religions conflict. “Just remember, Margaret,” she says, “No matter what they said . . . you’re a Jewish girl.”

Margaret disagrees, and Grandma’s comment bugs her almost as much the other grandparents’ insistence on taking her to church. Why does everybody claim they know Margaret's religion? Why is nobody willing to take her feelings into account? 

In a fit of rebellion against Grandma and everyone, Margaret insists that she is not religious: “I’m nothing, and you know it! I don’t even believe in God!” As she says this, she feels triumphant, and she privately hopes that God hears her and feels bad for not giving her more help in her attempts to choose a religion for herself.

As for Grandma, she is appalled. She begs Margaret not to say awful things about God, but Margaret insists she does not believe. This way, she can avoid being used by either side in her family’s conflict, and she can also avoid getting roped into a religion she does not understand.

All evening, the adults in the house act polite but somewhat suspicious of one another. As for Margaret, she is too annoyed to be polite. She makes a show of yawning a lot until the adults suggest she go to bed. Then she goes to her room, where she does not talk to God because she is still giving him the silent treatment. To herself, she reflects:

Sometimes Grandma is almost as bad as everybody else. As long as she loves me and I love her, what difference does religion make?