Going Places


A.R. Barton

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Going Places can help.
The Bow Symbol Icon

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

The Going Places quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Bow. 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:
Fantasy vs. Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the National Council of Education Research and Training edition of Going Places published in 2014.
Going Places Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Sophie, Sophie’s Father, Mother
Related Symbols: The Bow
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Going Places LitChart as a printable PDF.
Going Places PDF

The Bow Symbol Timeline in Going Places

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bow appears in Going Places. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Going Places
Fantasy vs. Reality Theme Icon
Family vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Class vs. Ambition Theme Icon
Limitations of Gender Roles Theme Icon
...sighs. Sophie watches her mother “stooped over the sink,” noticing the “incongruity” between the “delicate bow” on her apron strings and her “crooked back.” The “small room” is “cluttered” with her... (full context)