Everything I Never Told You

Doris Walker Character Analysis

Doris Walker is Marilyn’s mother. Doris’ unnamed husband leaves her when Marilyn is three, yet she continues to perform the role of a perfect housewife, wearing makeup at all times and cooking elaborate meals and desserts. She is a home economics teacher at Marilyn’s high school and is obsessed with the Betty Crocker cookbook. When she meets James at his and Marilyn’s wedding, she tells Marilyn not to marry him because he is Chinese; after this point, she and her daughter never see each other again. After Doris dies, Marilyn notes that Doris’ house bears no trace of Doris’ existence.

Doris Walker Quotes in Everything I Never Told You

The Everything I Never Told You quotes below are all either spoken by Doris Walker or refer to Doris Walker. 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:
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Everything I Never Told You published in 2015.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Newcomers to the school district assumed Mrs. Walker was a widow. Her mother herself never mentioned it. She still powdered her nose after cooking and before eating she still put on lipstick before coming downstairs to make breakfast. So they called it keeping house for a reason, Marilyn thought. Sometimes it did run away.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, Doris Walker
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

When Nath had been born, then Lydia, Marilyn had not informed her mother, had not even sent a photograph. What was there to say? She and James had never discussed what her mother had said about their marriage that last day: it's not right. She had not ever wanted to think of it again. So when James came home that night, she said simply, "My mother died." Then she turned back to the stove and added, "And the lawn needs mowing," and he understood: they would not talk about it.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee, Doris Walker
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 10 Quotes

"I am disappointed." Marilyn's head snaps up. "l thought you were different." What she means is: I thought you were better than other men. I thought you wanted better than that. But James, still thinking of Marilyn's mother, hears something else.

"You got tired of different, didn't you?" he says. "I'm too different. Your mother knew it right away. You think it's such a good thing, standing out. But look at you. Just look at you."

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee (speaker), James Lee (speaker), Doris Walker
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

You loved so hard and hoped so much and then you ended up with nothing. Children who no longer needed you. A husband who no longer wanted you. Nothing left but you, alone, and empty space.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Doris Walker
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Doris Walker Character Timeline in Everything I Never Told You

The timeline below shows where the character Doris Walker appears in Everything I Never Told You. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...instead of home economics. Home ec was required of all sophomore girls, and Marilyn’s mother, Doris Walker, was the teacher. Marilyn had been at the top of her class since sixth... (full context)
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Doris grew up eighty miles from Charlottesville and has never left her hometown. When Marilyn is... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...it’s too far, but, in fact, she worries about what she would (or wouldn’t) tell Doris about her relationship with James. Marilyn explains to James that Doris is a home ec... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Marilyn phones Doris and tells her that she and James are getting married. She explains that James is... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
On the day of the wedding, Doris takes Marilyn aside to “touch up [her] lipstick.” Doris is already upset that Marilyn is... (full context)
Chapter 4
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...and mother. She is irritated by the knowledge that her life turned out exactly how Doris wanted. James insists that they go to the Christmas party, as he is up for... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...but Marilyn secretly keeps Tom’s number. In April, Marilyn gets a call informing her that Doris has died. Marilyn has not spoken to her mother since her wedding day, and she... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...of herself as a child, but none of her mother. There is no evidence of Doris’ existence at all except her beloved Betty Crocker cookbook. Marilyn takes note of which passages... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
The next morning, Marilyn calls a company that will remove the rest of Doris’ belongings. Marilyn wonders where all of Doris’ things will go, and concludes that it is... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...next night, Marilyn concocts an elaborate plan. She will take her mother’s savings and, after Doris’ house sells, the additional money from that. This will be enough to fund her for... (full context)
Chapter 6
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
...Now that Marilyn is gone, James thinks about the past obsessively and is haunted by Doris’ opposition to their marriage. He reads Marilyn’s note again and again, hoping that it will... (full context)
Chapter 8
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...of this would have happened,” because Lydia would have “fit in.” He tells Marilyn that Doris was right, that they should never have married. (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Back in the present, Marilyn frets over James’ angry words. When she told James about Doris’ disapproval on their wedding day, she never imagined it would affect him like this. She... (full context)
Chapter 10
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...“nice little wife.” She says she knows Louisa’s “type,” claiming it’s the type of woman Doris hoped Marilyn would be. James is infuriated by Marilyn’s mention of her mother, recalling the... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...drives away too. Upstairs, Marilyn sits in Lydia’s room and thinks of all the years Doris spent alone in her house. Marilyn rips in half the postcard of Einstein she gave... (full context)