Little Fires Everywhere

Linda and Mark McCullough Character Analysis

May Ling Chow’s adoptive parents, who have longed for a child for years. They rename May Ling “Mirabelle” and welcome her lovingly into their home—but before the adoption can go through, they are blindsided by Bebe Chow’s case for custody of her daughter. The McCulloughs, though loving parents and kind individuals, are hopelessly misguided and quite tone-deaf when it comes to raising their daughter with a knowledge of her cultural heritage. In order to appease the media and dodge questions of thoughtlessly assimilating their child, they buy Asian wall art and a stuffed panda for May Ling to play with. Though they eventually win the case, May Ling is taken from them by Bebe Chow, who returns to China with her child, effectively going off the grid and making a search impossible. At the end of the novel, they apply to adopt a baby from China, and take comfort in the fact that “coming from China, the odds of the baby’s family trying to regain custody are almost nil.”

Linda and Mark McCullough Quotes in Little Fires Everywhere

The Little Fires Everywhere quotes below are all either spoken by Linda and Mark McCullough or refer to Linda and Mark McCullough. 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:
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Little Fires Everywhere published in 2017.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Listen to this dumbass question,” [Lexie] groaned, fishing the application from her bag. “Rewrite a famous story from a different perspective. For example, retell The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch.”
“How about a fairy tale,” Moody suggested. “‘Cinderella’ from the point of view of the stepsisters.”
“‘Little Red Riding Hood’ as told by the wolf,” Pearl suggested.
“Or ‘Rumplestiltskin,’” Lexie mused. “That miller’s daughter cheated him. He did all that spinning for her and she said she’d give him her baby and then she reneged. Maybe she’s the villain here. She shouldn’t have agreed to give up her baby in the first place, if she didn’t want to.”
“Well,” Mia put in suddenly. “Maybe she didn’t know what she was giving up. Maybe once she saw the baby she changed her mind. Don’t be too quick to judge.”

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Pearl Warren (speaker), Moody Richardson (speaker), Lexie Richardson (speaker), Bebe Chow, Linda and Mark McCullough
Page Number: 54-55
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?

Related Characters: Mr. Richardson / Bill, Bebe Chow, Mirabelle McCullough / May Ling Chow, Linda and Mark McCullough, Ed Lim
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

For [Mrs. Richardson] it was simple: Bebe Chow had been a poor mother; Linda McCullough had been a good one. One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules, [Mr. Richardson] reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure which side of the line you stood on.

Related Characters: Mrs. Richardson / Elena, Mr. Richardson / Bill, Bebe Chow, Mirabelle McCullough / May Ling Chow, Linda and Mark McCullough
Page Number: 269
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Linda and Mark McCullough Character Timeline in Little Fires Everywhere

The timeline below shows where the character Linda and Mark McCullough appears in Little Fires Everywhere. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...Thanksgiving, the Richardsons are invited to attend a birthday party thrown by their friends, the McCulloughs. Moody and Izzy want to invite Pearl, but Mrs. Richardson refuses, telling them that “Pearl... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...adopting the baby. Mirabelle first arrived at the McCullough household almost a year ago. The McCulloughs, who had been on the waitlist to adopt a baby, received a call saying that... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...continues to gush about May Ling. She tells Mia the “mirac[ulous]” story of how the McCulloughs came to adopt May Ling after she was left at a fire station. Though Mia’s... (full context)
Chapter 10
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...turned away from the McCullough house. After knocking and ringing the doorbell there, Bebe saw Mrs. McCullough peeking out from behind the curtain. Mia tells Bebe she shouldn’t have gone over uninvited.... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...with Bebe, who told the team that she has her life together and that the McCulloughs have no right to her child—“a child belong with her mother,” she says. Mr. McCullough... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...the news will blow over soon—but it does not. News teams continue to hound the McCulloughs, and the story is featured each night. A local lawyer named Ed Lim offers to... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...gathered together for dinner, discuss the case. Mr. Richardson has agreed to work as the McCulloughs’ representation, telling his family that “they just want to do right by the baby.” Izzy... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...admit to herself the truth: that she is doing so as retribution for Mia’s ruining Mrs. McCullough ’s happiness. (full context)
Chapter 11
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...right to the child—it is, many feel, a race issue. Though some feel that the McCulloughs are “rescuing” May Ling, other members of the public interviewed on the news—including Serena Wong’s... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...to bicker back and forth about the case. Mrs. Richardson and Lexie side with the McCulloughs, as does Mr. Richardson, while Moody and Izzy, inspired by Pearl and Mia, take Bebe’s... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...the library or in another public place while a social worker hovers over her. The McCulloughs have invited Bebe to visit May Ling in their home, but Bebe refused, not wanting... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Mrs. Richardson’s anger at Mia over Mrs. McCullough ’s pain continues to burn. She reflects upon her own family history, and the order... (full context)
Chapter 16
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...Mr. Richardson suggests May Ling would really be better off in the care of the McCulloughs, who are able to provide a luxurious life for her. The case, over and over,... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...for the first time, feels doubt about the morality of the case, and whether the McCulloughs’ win is a sure thing. He confides this to his family at dinnertime, and everyone... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...to his wife. Mrs. Richardson tells him that “there are resources out there” for the McCulloughs to learn more about Chinese culture, and that she’d be happy to see “Mirabelle raised... (full context)
Chapter 17
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
The judge is still unable to make a decision, and Mrs. Richardson, visiting Mrs. McCullough at her home, asks if there is “anything else” she can think to tell the... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mrs. Richardson, telling herself that she wants to help Mrs. McCullough win the case, begins “searching for evidence.” She contacts one of her old college roommates... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...from Mr. Richardson. He informs her that the judge has made a decision, and the McCulloughs have won custody of May Ling—or Mirabelle, as she will now officially be known. Mrs.... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
The McCulloughs hold a press conference in which they remind the press that “Bebe abandoned [her child]”... (full context)
Chapter 19
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Across town, Bebe sits on the curb across the street from the McCulloughs’ house. She imagines Linda McCullough bathing May Ling and putting her to bed as she... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Later that afternoon, Mr. Richardson checks his voicemail to find a message from the distraught McCulloughs, in which they tell him that May Ling disappeared in the night—while they slept peacefully... (full context)