And the Mountains Echoed

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Odelia Varvaris Character Analysis

The mother of Markos Varvaris, Odelia Varvaris is a strong, tough, and often seemingly emotionless woman. Although she takes good care of Markos, and later of Thalia, Odelia has a difficult time expressing her love and pride in other people. Her Stoicism causes Markos to experience identity crises for many years. Ultimately, shortly after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, she tells her son that she’s extremely proud of him—words which fill Markos with pride, but also remind him of the loving relationship he and his mother have been missing for years.

Odelia Varvaris Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Odelia Varvaris or refer to Odelia Varvaris . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of And the Mountains Echoed published in 2014.
Chapter 8 Quotes

“You’ve made me proud, Markos.”
I am fifty-five years old. I have waited all my life to hear those words. Is it too late now for this? For us? Have we squandered too much for too long, Mamá and I? Part of me thinks it is better to go on as we have, to act as though we don’t know how ill suited we have been for each other. Less painful that way. Perhaps better than this belated offering. This fragile, trembling little glimpse of how it could have been between us. All it will beget is regret, I tell myself, and what good is regret? It brings back nothing. What we have lost is irretrievable.

Related Characters: Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”) (speaker), Odelia Varvaris (speaker)
Page Number: 358-359
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Markos--the doctor we first met in Nabi's letter--talks to his aged mother, Odelia Varvaris. Markos has always had a strange relationship with Odelia--while he knows that Odelia is a good mother, he's always felt that Odelia is too disapproving and cold with him, as if she doesn't really love him. Now, after decades of coldness between the two of them, Markos learns the truth: Odelia has always loved Markos, and is enormously proud of his achievement as a doctor and a human being.

It's important to notice the fine line between joy and sorrow in this passage. Markos is of course pleased to hear the words he's always craved from his mother. And yet his mother's words also sadden him, because they remind him of the years of happiness he could have had with his mother, and now can't get back.

In short, Hosseini uses Chapter 8 to question the notion of a happy reunion. On paper, Markos and Odelia's reunion is perfectly happy: they say all the right things to one another. And yet no amount of kind words can make up for the intervening years. A tearful reunion isn't always enough for a happy ending, because of the constant power of memory and the past.

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Odelia Varvaris Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Odelia Varvaris appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
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...her mother, Madaline, traveled to his home in Tinos, Greece to visit Markos, his mother, Odelia. Odelia had known Madaline since they were children—they went to mass together, and had always... (full context)
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...Thalia was wearing a dark veil that covered her face, presumably to hide the scar Odelia had mentioned. Markos can still remember the moment, a few hours after meeting Thalia, when... (full context)
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...happiness. Madaline told Markos about how her father used to beat her—and how, years ago, Odelia bravely protected Madaline from these beatings. (full context)
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When Markos was a child, Odelia told him to spend more time with Thalia. When Markos protested that Thalia was a... (full context)
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Thalia and Markos spent more time together, but only because Markos didn’t enjoy being around Odelia and Madaline together—as he could sense Odelia’s discomfort. One day, as they’re walking by a... (full context)
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...Markos’s house. Markos is preparing to take some photographs of his family. Rather than ask Odelia to buy him a camera, he’s made a homemade pinhole camera, using cardboard, a flashlight,... (full context)
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The next day, Markos assembles Odelia, Thalia, and Madaline on the beach near his house. He directs them to stand still... (full context)
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...visiting Tinos. Madaline announces that she’s leaving Tinos, leaving Thalia to live with Markos and Odelia, supposedly for a few weeks. Madaline claims that she’s returning to her home to shoot... (full context)
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Madaline leaves Thalia in Tinos with Markos and Odelia. Thalia doesn’t seem very sad to see her mother go. In the coming weeks, Odelia... (full context)
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Madaline sends word to Odelia that her film’s shoot is delayed—Thalia will have to stay in Tinos for longer than... (full context)
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In the afternoon, Odelia, who’s been taking a nap, comes downstairs and greets Markos. Odelia and Markos drink coffee... (full context)
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The next day, around ten-thirty in the morning, Markos, Odelia, and Thalia gather outside to watch the eclipse. As the eclipse proceeds, Markos notice that... (full context)