Year of Wonders

by

Geraldine Brooks

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Mem Gowdie Character Analysis

Mem Gowdie is a healer and midwife, alongside her niece, Anys. While Anys is flamboyant, often seeming eager to attract attention and perpetuate rumors, Mem is staid and quiet. She has an immense store of herbal knowledge and a large supply of kindness. Anna remembers Mem caring for her after her mother’s death, a rare moment of comfort in a harsh childhood. Like Anys, Mem is killed by a hysterical mob who believe she is a witch responsible for the plague.
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Mem Gowdie Character Timeline in Year of Wonders

The timeline below shows where the character Mem Gowdie appears in Year of Wonders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Ring of Roses
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
...a witch. While Elinor is protected by her class from such suspicions, the town healer, Mem Gowdie, was once accused of witchcraft; people believed that because her teas and salves could... (full context)
Part 2: Rat-Fall
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
Rain comes and brings fleas which cover Anna and her sons in bites. Anna meets Mem Gowdie, on her way to treat Edward Hadfield, who is sick with a fever. However,... (full context)
Part 2: Sign of a Witch
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...hysterical mob of villagers, including her friend Lib and neighbor Mary. The mob is attacking Mem Gowdie, accusing her of witchcraft and, convinced that her blood can cure the plague, smearing... (full context)
Female Sexuality and Friendship Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
When Anna wakes up, Mem is sinking, which means she is “innocent” but likely to drown. No one is brave... (full context)
Part 2: Venom in the Blood
Community and Convention Theme Icon
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
Anna and Elinor try to nurse Mem, but she dies of her beating five days after Anys. Anna notes that with them... (full context)
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time
Science and Superstition Theme Icon
...is too crowded with memories, like her early friendship with Elinor and the deaths of Mem and Anys, that she doesn’t want to relive. (full context)