Cate Kennedy

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Themes and Colors
Grief and Loneliness Theme Icon
Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Love, Care, and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Hardship Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Waiting, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Grief and Loneliness

In “Waiting,” a woman sits in a hospital waiting room, knowing exactly what her ultrasound will reveal: that she has lost yet another pregnancy. But as she grieves her lost pregnancies, she’s conspicuously alone. She’s at the doctor’s office by herself, the staff barely acknowledge her humanity, and she never mentions any friends or family to lean on except her husband, Pete—but Pete isn’t with her because she hasn’t actually told him about this…

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Nature, Chaos, and Powerlessness

Throughout “Waiting,” the narrator frames nature as a destructive force that stirs chaos throughout her life. Nature is responsible for her miscarriages, for her husband’s crops failing, and—in general—for “whipping the rug out from under [them]” so many times in their lives. Amidst all this destructive chaos, the narrator and her husband wait eagerly, though powerlessly, for some kind of order to emerge or for something to go their way. In the end, though, it…

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Love, Care, and Suffering

In “Waiting,” the story’s characters struggle to express love and care. The hospital staff have been taught a cold and alienating bedside manner, so they show no sympathy for the narrator’s repeated miscarriages. Meanwhile, the narrator’s husband, Pete, doesn’t even know about her pregnancy, so he’s not able to support her in her grief. And while the narrator claims not to have told Pete about the pregnancy as an act of love (in…

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Gender, Class, and Hardship

Throughout “Waiting,” the narrator’s gender and social class make an already painful situation worse. While describing her experience of losing multiple pregnancies, the narrator repeatedly draws attention to how others overlook her pain because she’s a working-class woman, implying that the situation might be different were she wealthy or if her hospital knew how to serve female patients. In this way, Cate Kennedy calls attention to the fact that while miscarriage is difficult for…

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