The Mothers

by

Brit Bennett

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Robert’s Truck Symbol Analysis

Robert’s Truck Symbol Icon

Robert’s truck symbolizes how coping mechanisms can become toxic. Before his wife’s death, Robert loves the truck, taking pride in using it to run errands for Upper Room. When the church protests the abortion clinic, for example, he offers to transport their picket signs each morning using the bed of his pickup. However, after Elise commits suicide, Robert becomes increasingly obsessed with the truck, spending the majority of his time washing it or using it to run errands for Upper Room. The truck becomes an outlet for his grief, which he uses to distract himself from and cope with his own sorrow. Unfortunately, this outlet also allows Robert to avoid Nadia, as his constant errands for Upper Room keep him from staying at home and interacting with his daughter or keeping tabs on how she’s dealing with the loss of her mother. Robert abandons his responsibility as a parent, instead directing his caretaking energies into polishing his precious vehicle.

Robert’s Truck Quotes in The Mothers

The The Mothers quotes below all refer to the symbol of Robert’s Truck. 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 Two Quotes

He stepped toward her and the sudden movement made her drop everything in her hands, her purse and shoes and keys clattering to the driveway. She jutted her arms out before he could come closer. He stopped, his jaw clenched, and she couldn’t tell whether he wanted to slap her or hug her. Both hurt, his anger and his love, as they stood together in the dark driveway, his heart beating against her hands.

Related Characters: Nadia Turner, Robert Turner
Related Symbols: Robert’s Truck
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Three Quotes

If you don’t become them, even for a second, a prayer is nothing but words. […] That’s why it didn’t take us long to figure out what had happened to Robert Turner’s truck. Ordinarily waxed and gleaming, the truck hobbled into the Upper Room parking lot on Sunday with a dented front bumper and cracked headlight. In the lobby, we heard young folks joking about how drunk Nadia Turner had been at some beach party. Then we became young again, or that is to say, we became her. Dancing all night with a bottle of vodka in hand, staggering out the door. A careless drive home weaving between lanes. The crunch of metal. How, when Robert smelled the liquor, he must have hit her or maybe hugged her. How she was probably deserving of both.

Related Characters: The Mothers (speaker), Nadia Turner, Robert Turner
Related Symbols: Robert’s Truck
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
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Robert’s Truck Symbol Timeline in The Mothers

The timeline below shows where the symbol Robert’s Truck appears in The Mothers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Two
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
...the protest lasted, Robert Turner drove to the clinic every morning in his beloved pickup truck to deliver the picket signs. “He and his wife were not the protesting type,” the... (full context)
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
These days, Robert is known as “the man with the truck” because of how much he uses it to run errands for the church. He constantly... (full context)
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
...her excuse. As he awkwardly leaves her room, she asks if she can borrow his truck. He’s hesitant, but Nadia convinces him by saying, “Where do you think I’m taking it?... (full context)
Internalization vs. Externalization Theme Icon
Nadia drives Robert’s truck to Fat Charlie’s in search of Luke, who’s nowhere to be seen. Acting on a... (full context)
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Coming into the driveway with her father’s truck after Cody Richardson’s party, Nadia turns too sharply and hits a tree. Now, as she... (full context)
Chapter Eight
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...starts to rise the next day, 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... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen
Caretaking and Responsibility Theme Icon
Religion and Judgment Theme Icon
...Sheppard, and “what other church would have a need for a lonely man and his truck?” (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...but they never look new.” One such day, they see Nadia driving by in Robert’s truck. She’s in her thirties now, though she looks the same. The Mothers wonder why she... (full context)
Secrecy, Gossip, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Mothers claims she sees a pink Barbie bag sitting in the front seat of Robert’s truck as Nadia drives past, and the group speculates that she’s bringing a gift for Aubrey’s... (full context)