The Mothers


Brit Bennett

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A twenty-eight-year-old Marine whom Aubrey and Nadia meet on the beach several days before Aubrey and Luke’s wedding. Aubrey and Russell make a quick connection. At the end of the night, she tells him she’s not “afraid” of him and pulls him into a kiss. They then go into the beach’s public restroom, where Aubrey straddles Russell on the dirty floor. When Russell tells her he doesn’t have a condom, though, she quickly stands up and leaves. Later, she corresponds with him over email, since Nadia slipped Aubrey’s address to him before they parted ways. While Russell is stationed in Iraq, he emails Aubrey about his life and asks her about important things that Luke never wants to talk about, like her disappointment regarding the fact that she hasn’t gotten pregnant yet. Shortly thereafter, Russell appears at Upper Room and asks Aubrey to go to lunch with him. Aubrey hesitantly accepts, and while they’re at lunch she finds herself articulating for the first time that Luke and Nadia are having an affair. In this way, Russell helps Aubrey clarify her emotions and suspicions. Although their relationship never becomes fully physical, their deep emotional connection allows Bennett to explore the different forms of infidelity. While Luke and Nadia sleep together, Aubrey and Russell share a nonphysical intimacy that Bennett intimates is perhaps not as innocent as it seems.

Russell Miller Quotes in The Mothers

The The Mothers quotes below are all either spoken by Russell Miller or refer to Russell Miller . 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:
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of The Mothers published in 2016.
Chapter Twelve Quotes

“Well, you got your husband to protect you.”

“My husband’s the one who hurts me,” she said. “He thinks I don’t know he’s in love with someone else.”

She had never said it out loud before. There was something freeing in admitting that you had been loved less. She might have gone her whole life not knowing, thinking that she was enjoying a feast when she had actually been picking at another’s crumbs.

Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
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Russell Miller Character Timeline in The Mothers

The timeline below shows where the character Russell Miller appears in The Mothers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Eight
Identity Theme Icon
...the game. Afterwards, the two girls have dinner with the Marines, and Aubrey flirts with Miller, the tall one who’s clearly interested in her. He’s older—twenty-eight—and has been deployed to Iraq... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
...paralyzed—but she does so anyway. Wading back out of the water, though, she notices that Miller has stayed onshore. She asks if he’s scared, and he says “Of dying? Yes.” In... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon, Aubrey and Nadia are still awake. Sitting in Robert’s truck, Nadia says she thinks Miller liked Aubrey, and Aubrey considers telling her friend what happened in the bathroom. She wants... (full context)
Chapter Ten
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
During this time, Aubrey starts corresponding via email with Miller, the Marine she met on the beach before her wedding. Apparently, Nadia gave Miller Aubrey’s... (full context)
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
In the past, Aubrey has somewhat blurred the line between friendship and flirtation with Russell. She even sends him a picture of herself driving up the coast with her sister—a... (full context)
Chapter Twelve
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
The following Sunday, Aubrey sees Russell in the receiving line at church. Catching up with him outside, Aubrey asks Russell what... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Aubrey meets Russell at a diner on the pier two days later. Reminding herself they’re not on a... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Russell asks if Luke wants a boy or a girl, and Aubrey says she doesn’t know.... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Aubrey and Russell’s lunch date doesn’t go unnoticed in the community, and people from Upper Room start gossiping,... (full context)