The Mothers

The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard) Character Analysis

Luke Sheppard’s mother, and John Sheppard’s wife. Latrice Sheppard has different colored eyes (one brown and one blue), which Bennett claims enables Latrice to look at a woman and know whether or not she has been physically abused. When Mrs. Sheppard tells Aubrey about this power over a cup of tea in Upper Room one day, the young woman grows nervous that Latrice can intuit her history as a rape victim and worries that her past is “written on her skin.” Despite this nervousness, though, Aubrey and Mrs. Sheppard have a close relationship. In fact, Latrice is so kind to Aubrey that Nadia envies their bond, wanting badly for Mrs. Sheppard to treat her with the same kindness. Unfortunately for Nadia, though, Latrice has considered Nadia to be a reckless seductress ever since she caught Nadia kissing a boy behind the church years ago. The tension between Nadia and the first lady is only exacerbated by the fact that Latrice is the one who gives Luke the money to pay for Nadia’s abortion. Latrice reveals this to Nadia years later, telling the young woman to leave her son alone. In this way, the bad blood between Latrice and Nadia continues throughout the novel, as the first lady embodies the shame and disapproval Nadia is faced with for her abortion and her relationship with Luke.

The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard) Quotes in The Mothers

The The Mothers quotes below are all either spoken by The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard) or refer to The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard). 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 Four Quotes

Not ghost eyes, but she had been gifted with a second sight nonetheless: she could look at a girl and tell if she’d been hit before. Forget bruises and scars—hit women learned to hide or explain those away. No need for stories about running into doorknobs or tripping down stairs—all she needed to do was lock her odd eyes onto theirs and she knew a woman surprised or outraged by pain from a woman who’d learned to expect it. She saw past flawless skin to diamond-shaped iron burns, gashes from golden belt buckles, necks nicked by steak knives, lips split by class rings, faces blooming purple and deep blue. She’d told Aubrey this the third time she’d invited her for tea, and after, Aubrey had stared into the mirror, wondering what else the first lady saw. Was her entire past written on her skin?

Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
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The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard) Character Timeline in The Mothers

The timeline below shows where the character The First Lady (Latrice Sheppard) appears in The Mothers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Three
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
...do. As she runs the clippers along his head, he says that the pastor’s wife— the first lady —needs an assistant for the summer. “I can’t work there,” Nadia responds, but when her... (full context)
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
Nadia doesn’t understand why the first lady would hire her, since she’s certain Mrs. Sheppard hates her after having caught her kissing... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
As Nadia fetches Mrs. Sheppard a cup of coffee, she looks out the window and sees a summer camp playing... (full context)
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
As the weeks progress, Nadia works for Mrs. Sheppard , who gives her insignificant tasks and often critiques her work. Because the jobs the... (full context)
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
...The two girls have an awkward, stilted conversation. Later, Nadia watches as Aubrey goes into Mrs. Sheppard ’s office for tea, and she wonders what it would be like to have the... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Bennett briefly shifts her attention to focus on Latrice Sheppard , who—just as Nadia suspects—never wanted to hire an assistant, let alone the girl her... (full context)
Chapter Four
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
Bennett notes that Latrice Sheppard —with her unique eyes, one of which is blue and one of which is brown—has... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
Mrs. Sheppard is highly perceptive, but she still doesn’t know that Paul used to get drunk and... (full context)
Chapter Five
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
One morning, Mrs. Sheppard knocks on Luke’s bedroom door and tells him she knows he’s been spending his time... (full context)
Chapter Six
Identity Theme Icon
...small apartment. “Get a job, Luke,” Mr. Sheppard says upon hearing about the Cobras. “Listen,” his mother adds, shaking her head, “I know you love football but you got to be realistic... (full context)
Chapter Seven
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
...blanket they knit for him. He doesn’t know much about Aubrey, other than that both his mother and Nadia like her. Sitting down, Aubrey tells him that she’s going to a local... (full context)
Chapter Nine
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...puts the flask in his pocket. Making their way back to the reception, they encounter Mrs. Sheppard , who grabs Luke’s arm and whisks him away. As Nadia follows, Mrs. Sheppard blocks... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Mrs. Sheppard leaves Nadia standing in the lobby outside the wedding reception. Alone, Nadia processes the fact... (full context)
Chapter Ten
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...away, she has reviewed “everything about that summer before college: the pastor’s tentative visit, […] Mrs. Sheppard ’s coldness at work, how surprisingly kind she’d seemed right before Nadia left.” (full context)
Chapter Thirteen
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
...bring herself to abandon her father again, at least “not yet.” In church one day, Mrs. Sheppard pulls her aside and asks if she’s heard from Aubrey, since Aubrey won’t tell her... (full context)