For almost her entire life, Marilyn is obsessed with becoming a doctor. It is a dream she has harbored since childhood, and whenever she faces opposition (mostly in the form of sexist prejudice against the idea of a female doctor), it only makes her more fervently attached to the ambition. Yet after marrying James and giving birth to Nath and Lydia, what was once a plausible goal becomes further and further out of Marilyn’s reach. Despite this change of circumstances, Marilyn remains obsessively fixated on the world of medicine, so much so that it leads her to strange and irrational behavior, such as driving to the Middlewood hospital for no reason. Upon learning that Janet Wolff is a doctor, Marilyn experiences a kind of emotional break, which eventually leads her to run away from her family and finish her undergraduate studies at a community college in Toledo. When she is ultimately forced to abandon her goal of becoming a doctor, Marilyn displaces her ambitions by projecting them onto Lydia. From a young age, Lydia is aware that Marilyn wishes to live out her own dream through Lydia, and Lydia describes Marilyn’s heart as “drumming one beat: doctor, doctor, doctor.” Although being a doctor revolves around healing and caring for people, the novel places the role of “doctor” in opposition to the role of being a good mother. Mrs. Allen accuses Janet of neglecting Jack during her shifts at the hospital, and it is Marilyn’s unrealized medical ambitions that lead her to cause pain to Lydia and other members of her family.
Doctors Quotes in Everything I Never Told You
It was a sign, Marilyn decided. For her it was too late. But it wasn't too late for Lydia. Marilyn would not be like her own mother, shunting her daughter toward husband and house, a life spent safely behind a deadbolt. She would help Lydia do everything she was capable of. She would spend the rest of her years guiding Lydia, sheltering her, the way you tended a prize rose: helping it grow, propping it with stakes, arching each stem toward perfection… She buried her nose in Lydia's hair and made silent promises. Never to tell her to sit up straight, to find a husband, to keep a house. Never to suggest that there were jobs or lives or worlds not meant for her; never to let her hear doctor and think only man. To encourage her, for the rest of her life, to do more than her mother had.
“I didn't care. I knew what I wanted. I was going to be a doctor." She glares at James, as if he has contradicted her. “Then—fortunately—l came to my senses. I stopped trying to be different. I did just what all the other girls were
doing. I got married. I gave all that up." A thick bitterness coats her tongue. "Do what everyone else is doing. That's all you ever said to Lydia. Make friends. Fit in. But I didn't want her to be just like everyone else." The rims of her eyes ignite. "I wanted her to be exceptional."