We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


Karen Joy Fowler

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves can help.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: Part 6, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Back in 1996, Rosemary’s lost suitcase is eventually returned, only a few days after she leaves for the Christmas vacation. Rosemary gives back the wrong suitcase to its owner. She intends to write a note of apology for the fact that Madame Defarge is missing, but never sends it. She imagines telling the owner that Madame Defarge is now living life “as a political activist and dispenser of rough justice.” Rosemary opens one of her mother’s journals from the suitcase and finds a picture of herself as a baby, with a short poem underneath it. There is also a picture of Fern accompanied by a poem. Rosemary realizes that her mother’s writings are not scientific journals at all, but rather her and Fern’s “baby books.”
This passage again draws into question the binary between scientific inquiry and ordinary social life. Rosemary’s mother’s journals are certainly of interest to scientific thought, but they are primarily records of the Cookes’ family life. Rosemary and her family can never escape the fact that their life together was something of an extended scientific experiment, but that doesn’t mean that they must view every aspect of their shared history through a scientific lens. Instead, Rosemary is able to appreciate the journals as a testament to her mother’s love for her children.
Family, Tradition, and the Past Theme Icon
Absence, Silence, and Denial Theme Icon
Science, Knowledge, and Experiments Theme Icon
Normalcy vs. Deviance Theme Icon