Cat’s Eye

by

Margaret Atwood

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Elaine’s Mother Character Analysis

Elaine’s mother, whose name is never revealed. She is more reserved, and later in Elaine’s life it becomes clear that she knew about Cordelia’s bullying but never intervened at the time because she was unsure of what to do. Much of her life seems defined by fulfilling a role she has no particular interest in—she does not have much of her own career, and spends her time cooking and doing housework, although she has no particular affinity for either activity. She does have her own social life, however, and invites friends over to play bridge. She also does not care much about social norms, evidenced by her going down to pick flowers by the ravine where all the young girls were warned off from. Like her husband, Elaine and Stephen’s father, she does not believe in organized religion. After her son and husband die, she holds out a year longer before passing away from an unknown disease.
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Elaine’s Mother Character Timeline in Cat’s Eye

The timeline below shows where the character Elaine’s Mother appears in Cat’s Eye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two: Silver Paper
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...with. She also wants a balloon, because she has only seen one—an old balloon Elaine’s mother tucked in the bottom of her steamer trunk before the war, which she takes out... (full context)
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...in a horrifically downtrodden condition, covered in mud and dead flies and cigarette butts; Elaine’s mother says that they all will have to pitch in to fix up the house. Elaine... (full context)
Part Three: Empire Bloomers
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...Elaine thinks about Carol and Grace, and they already feel less real to her. Elaine’s mother pays them to collect blueberries, a cent a cup, and makes puddings and sauces. Stephen... (full context)
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...of intimacy. Cordelia lives in a bright house with Swedish glass vases in which her mother arranges flowers. This differentiates her from Elaine’s mother, who only ever puts wildflowers she picks... (full context)
Part Four: Deadly Nightshade
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...about the idea, they try to dissuade her but Elaine chooses to go anyway. Elaine’s mother finds the idea particularly stressful, as her own parents had been strict and had forced... (full context)
Part Five: Wringer
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...excuses to avoid playing with them; she says she has to do chores for her mother. (full context)
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...them, and accuse her of thinking that she is better than them. They ask Elaine’s mother directly to let her play; she agrees. (full context)
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...thinks might be the wrong kinds of things to donate, but were all that her mother had in the cupboard. She dislikes the concept of white gifts, because they become “hard”... (full context)
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...uncovering hidden misery in others. Elaine’s father serves the stuffing and the turkey, while Elaine’s mother adds the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and asks Mr. Banerji whether they have any... (full context)
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...themselves. She divides everyone she knows into the categories of “tame” and “wild,” with her mother, father, and brother being wild along with Cordelia, but Grace and Carol fitting into the... (full context)
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...if she says no. Her stomach feels “dull as if full of earth,” but Elaine’s mother notices nothing and just tells her to dress warmly. On the way, Elaine feels translucent,... (full context)
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...the wooden bridge over the ravine, and nightshade berries. She doesn’t dream about Cordelia. Elaine’s mother think she is happy. (full context)
Part Six: Cat’s Eye
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...roast done in the pressure cooker. Everything was sturdier then, from shoes to food. Elaine’s mother did most of the cooking back home even though it wasn’t her favorite thing; she... (full context)
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...up or displayed because it would have had to be polished. Elaine wonders if her mother knew what was happening at the time, and thinks about what she would have done... (full context)
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Elaine made a series of paintings of her mother once, a double triptych that she called Pressure Cooker. It showed her mother in her... (full context)
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One day, Elaine is greasing muffin tins with her mother when her mother says vaguely that she does not need to play with the other... (full context)
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Elaine’s mother says that when she was little and kids called her names, they used to say... (full context)
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...all fathers except her own are “invisible in the daytime, as daytime is ruled by mothers”—"fathers come home with the darkness,” and that there is more to them "than meets the... (full context)
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Elaine’s mother is taken to the hospital all of a sudden when an ambulance comes in the... (full context)
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Sometimes Elaine has to repeat herself before her mother registers that she’s speaking, as she appears to have gone off somewhere else or forgotten... (full context)
Part Eight: Half a Face
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...them; “time is missing.” However, no one mentions this missing time to Elaine except her mother, who sometimes mentions that bad time she had. She has a happy life, but feels... (full context)
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...She hides all these things in a trunk in her parents’ basement, along with her mother’s wedding dress, their collection of ornate silver, bridge tallies, and drawings from her childhood. She... (full context)
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Cordelia’s mother calls the day before high school begins; she wants the two girls to walk to... (full context)
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One Sunday, Elaine sits with her family while her father draws spruce budworms, and her mother makes sandwiches. Their house has gone through some changes—they have a new radio and a... (full context)
Part Ten: Life Drawing
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...her name may have doomed her. Elaine’s own name was the same name as her mother’s best friend, which was a trend at the time. (full context)
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...bleached-out and broken.  Her parents doubt her choice to study art, because it seems impractical—Elaine’s mother said it was fine if that was what she really wanted to do but doubted... (full context)
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...Babs and Marjorie (older women in Life Drawing) tease her for. Mrs. Finestein tells Elaine’s mother that she looks like an Italian widow and is letting herself go; Elaine agrees. (full context)
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...cellar, where she puts up theater posters of Waiting for Godot and No Exit. Her mother finds the theater posters gloomy, but Elaine knows better. Her father finds her talent for... (full context)
Part Eleven: Falling Women
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Elaine’s parents move up north—her father returns to research, and her mother misses the garden but clears out the house. Elaine does not miss her parents, as... (full context)
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...having promised to attend, so Elaine considers flirting with someone. Jody introduces Elaine to her mother, who views the work on display with mild disapproval—though she did like Elaine’s painting Deadly... (full context)
Part Thirteen: Picoseconds
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...Stephen’s death. Elaine’s father grows thinner and stiller, and he eventually dies of natural causes—her mother follows a year later. Before Elaine’s mother dies of a slow illness, Elaine visits to... (full context)
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One day, Elaine’s mother brings up the “bad time” in Elaine’s childhood, which Elaine has completely repressed. She wants... (full context)