When Sophie comes home, she notices the “delicate bow” on her mother’s apron as her mother is stooped uncomfortably over the sink. The bow represents the incongruity between the beauty expected of women and the grim reality of their actual lives. A bow is stereotypically feminine, and despite how non-threatening a bow is, in this context it evokes the oppression that also sadly comes along with being a woman or a girl. In this time period especially, many women were unable to have lives outside of the home, so in some ways the bow might as well be a chain, trapping women to domestic servitude. It is important to note Sophie’s reaction to the bow: she feels a “tightening in her throat” and proceeds to leave the room. She sees the bow and her mother’s life and is distressed and wants to get away from the situation. The tightening in her throat lines up with feeling restricted and unable to voice one’s wants or needs, which appears to be the exact predicament her mother is in. To underscore this reading, Sophie’s mother does not even have dialogue— the bow is the only distinguishing character attribute she is given, as if her entire being is wrapped around completing the dull, monotonous tasks she has been given.
The Bow Quotes in Going Places
Their mother sighed.
Sophie watched her back stooped over the sink and wondered at the incongruity of the delicate bow which fastened her apron strings. The delicate-seeming bow and the crooked back. The evening had already blacked in the windows and the small room was steamy from the stove and cluttered with the heavy-breathing man in his vest at the table and the dirty washing piled up in the corner. Sophie felt a tightening in her throat.