Betty Crocker is, according to Marilyn, Doris’ “personal goddess,” and Doris treasures the red cookbook instructing housewives on how to create a happy home filled with elaborate meals and treats. When Marilyn goes to pack up her mother’s house after Doris’ death, she finds no trace of her mother among any of the photos or other belongings Doris left behind. The only thing that reminds Marilyn of her mother is the Betty Crocker cookbook, and thus she decides to keep it while throwing away everything else. However, the cookbook comes to haunt Marilyn, reminding her of how desperately—yet unsuccessfully—she tried to escape the false and restrictive role of a housewife. Marilyn feels cynical about the cookbook’s naïve promises of domestic happiness and harmony, given that her experience of familial life has been filled with disappointment, tension, and turmoil. When Marilyn runs away to Toledo, Lydia finds the cookbook and notices that it is stained with Marilyn’s tears. Lydia hides it so Marilyn will never have to see it again, and later Lydia claims that she lost it. After Lydia’s death, Marilyn realizes that Lydia’s claim to have lost the cookbook was a lie, and that in reality she was attempting to protect Marilyn from seeing it. It is this act that makes Marilyn realize how much Lydia both understood and loved her; ironically, therefore, the Betty Crocker cookbook is ultimately associated with an act of genuine love.
The Betty Crocker Cookbook Quotes in Everything I Never Told You
Three photo albums of Marilyn and not a single shot of her mother. As if
her mother had never been there. Was she sad? How could she miss her mother when her mother was nowhere to be found?
And then, in the kitchen, she discovered her mother's Betty Crocker cookbook, the spine cracking and mended, twice, with Scotch tape. On the first page of the cookie section, a deliberate line in the margin of the introduction, the kind she herself had made in college to mark an important
passage. It was no recipe. Always cookies in the cookie jar! the
paragraph read. Is there a happier symbol of a friendly house? That
was all. Her mother had felt the need to highlight this.
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.