Little Fires Everywhere

by

Celeste Ng

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Pauline Hawthorne Character Analysis

A famous photographer whose photographs “had been some of the most sought after” of the 1970s, she was Mia’s instructor in college and, eventually, her mentor and closest confidante in New York City. She and her partner Mal invited Mia to weekly dinners at their loft, which Mia began to see as a utopia where “everything [is] worth looking at more closely.” Pauline fell ill with brain cancer shortly after Pearl’s birth, and died within weeks. She left in Mia’s possession a series of photographs she’d taken of Pearl and Mia during their final visit, with a note that explains that Anita, the gallerist who sells her work, would sell the photos for Mia to assist with her finances, and would take Mia on as a client, too, whenever she felt ready. Pauline’s continued influence on Mia as a friend and an artist inspires Mia “with each shutter click.”
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Pauline Hawthorne Character Timeline in Little Fires Everywhere

The timeline below shows where the character Pauline Hawthorne appears in Little Fires Everywhere. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...that it is indeed Mia in the photograph; the print, attributed to an artist named Pauline Hawthorne, is titled Virgin and Child #1. Lexie wonders if Mia is “secretly famous.” (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...Pearl’s questions. Moody and Lexie continue to press Mia, asking if she knows anyone named Pauline Hawthorne. Mia snaps at the children and denies her ability to remember all she’s done... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Izzy, hungry for answers that will help her understand Mia, researches Pauline Hawthorne but can’t find any connection between her and Mia despite learning that Hawthorne was... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...York responsible for the sale. Anita Rees who dodges her questions about both Mia and Pauline, stating that “the original owner of the photo wished to remain anonymous.” Mrs. Richardson, discouraged... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Mrs. Richardson reads up on Pauline Hawthorne—she’s heard of her before, but doesn’t know much about her. She rediscovers Pauline’s famous... (full context)
Chapter 13
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
In the esteemed photographer Pauline Hawthorne’s class, Mia finds herself enthralled with Pauline, and is surprised and delighted to discover... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...her scholarship will not be renewed for the coming school year due to budget cuts. Pauline and Mal are devastated, but Mia shrugs it off as no big deal, telling them... (full context)
Chapter 14
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Looking back, Mia realizes that by not consulting her parents, her roommates, or Pauline and Mal, “she had already made up her mind” to help the Ryans. Mia asks... (full context)
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Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Pearl is only three weeks old when Mal calls Mia to tell her that Pauline has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and that Mia needs to come back to... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
A week and a half later, Pauline dies. A few weeks after her death a package arrives for Mia— there are ten... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...to Anita. After many months of sending things back and forth, Anita sells one of Pauline’s photographs, buying Mia time, and then, eventually, one of Mia’s original photos. With that, Mia... (full context)