Half Broke Horses

by

Jeannette Walls

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Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock Character Analysis

Lily’s mother, whose maiden name is Daisy Mae Peacock, is concerned with social proprieties and embodies the traditional femininity of her era. Described by Lily as being very small and dainty, Mom has white skin that easily bruises and wears corsets so tight that they cause her to faint. She refuses to help out with any manual labor—including trying to bail water out of the dugout when a flood hits—and appreciates finery; her prized possession is a walnut headboard that her own parents brought from the East. A deeply religious woman, Mom asserts that her own prayers, rather than Lily’s quick thinking, saved the children from the flash flood at the beginning of the story. She frequently chalks up life events to being part of “God’s will,” much to Lily’s annoyance. She also worries about her daughters being able to find husbands, and believes Lily’s first marriage has made her less of a “catch.” Mom dies while Lily is living in Phoenix.

Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock Quotes in Half Broke Horses

The Half Broke Horses quotes below are all either spoken by Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock or refer to Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock. 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:
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Half Broke Horses published in 2010.
Chapter 2  Quotes

Mom and Dad always talked as if it was a matter of course that Helen and I would marry and Buster would inherit the property, though I had to admit I'd never actually met a boy I liked, not to mention felt like marrying. On the other hand, women who didn't marry became old maids, spinsters who slept in the attic, sat in a corner peeling potatoes all day, and were a burden on their families, like our neighbor Old Man Pucket’s sister, Louella.

Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3  Quotes

But no matter how much planning you do, one tiny miscalculation, one moment of distraction, can end it all in an instant. There was a lot of danger in this world, and you had to be smart about it. You had to do what you could to prevent disaster. That night at the boardinghouse, I got out a pair of scissors and a mirror, and although Mom always called my long brown hair my crowning glory, I cut it all off just below my ears.

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock, Minnie Hanagan
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

She was convinced that Mom in particular would never forgive her for bringing shame on the family. Mom and Dad would disown her, she believed, the same way our servant girl Lupe's parents had kicked her out when she got pregnant. No man would ever want her again, Helen said, she had no place to go. She wasn't as strong as me, she said, and couldn't make it on her own.

"Don't you ever feel like giving up?" Helen asked. "I just feel like giving up."

"That's nonsense," I said. "You're much stronger than you think. There's always a way out." I talked again about the cottonwood tree. I also told her about the time I was sent home from the Sisters of Loretto because Dad wouldn't pay my tuition, and how Mother Albertina had told me that when God closes a window, he opens a door, and it was up to us to find it.

Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Half Broke Horses LitChart as a printable PDF.
Half Broke Horses PDF

Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock Character Timeline in Half Broke Horses

The timeline below shows where the character Mom / Daisy Mae Peacock appears in Half Broke Horses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...now shallower water to reach their house. Upon arrival, Dad rushes to greet them while Mom kneels in prayer, asserting that her praying through the night is what saved them. She... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...always filled with mosquitos. When Lily gets yellow jack fever, Dad takes care of her. Mom says the fever may have “boiled her brain” and made it harder for her to... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Mom is overly-concerned with “proprieties” and refuses to help with any chores requiring manual labor. Her... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Mom, on the other hand, feels like she had not signed up for life in Salt... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...to frequent dangerous flash flooding. When Lily was eight, a flood poured into the dugout. Mom refused to help them bail the dugout out, instead insisting on praying. As a result... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Mom is closest with Helen, who inherited her dainty features and constitution. She dotes on Buster... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...easily-spooked horse named Roosevelt, Lily was flung from the horse’s back and snapped her forearm. Mom was furious, but Dad set the bones. When Lily called the horse “dumb,” Dad insisted... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...sign.” The family, plus Apache and Lupe, hide in the crawl space under the house. Mom grabs everyone’s hands to pray, and Lily asks God to forgive her “earlier lack of... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...Lily would just need to pass a test to get a job—despite being only fifteen. Mom thinks leaving the ranch would reduce Lily’s chance of finding a husband, and Dad wants... (full context)
Chapter 3 
...family looks. Buster and Dorothy are now married, and the latter basically runs the ranch. Mom frets about Helen, who is now sixteen, finding a husband; Helen, meanwhile, wants to move... (full context)
Chapter 4
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...Santa Fe, things have changed little back at the ranch. Buster and Dorothy have children, Mom seems frail, and Helen is working as a clerk in Los Angeles. Patches is still... (full context)
Chapter 7
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
...does not have a big effect on their lives apart from a shortage of gasoline. Mom has died while Lily was studying in Phoenix, and now Buster and Dorothy have put... (full context)