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Stevie and Mama

The story “Stevie and Mama” surprised me in a lot of ways.  I found that I had to read it twice, because by the beginning I had almost forgotten when Roxy had come from.  Lee Smith is able to weave present and a huge chunk of past all together and make sense of all of it.  By withholding who Alice is, only in the last final pages are we able to really understand what is going on.  We don’t understand how Willie can seem so loving but have an affair.  With the death oft he child, and the change in Roxy, we understand how he was reaching out while his wife was so distant.

Roxy’s feelings towards Mary Etta were interesting to me.  On one hand, she feels sorry for her and says things along the lines of  “she’s only a maid”, and sides with her when she gets married (although her condescending attitude could shift to pride for her when she views Mary Etta in a happier light because she is severing contact with Willie), and on the other side she calls Mary Etta a slut.  She’s angry at her because Willie was with her, so she is condescending and mean towards her, but at the same time portrays her as a victim because it fits with her being angry at Willie.  This is all very interesting considering she was an adulterer in order to be with Willie in the first place.

Having Lilah get married throws an interesting twist into Roxy’s emotional roller coaster as well.  She’s already upset and thinking about marriage, and now her surrogate daughter is getting hitched which has her not only thinking about her marriages, but her daughter, and the fact that it will never really be her daughter getting married, because Alice is dead.  The two are linked by Willies infidelity after the death of Alice.  I would argue that this is why she doesn’t end up saying anything to Willie, because she still can’t talk about her daughter, and she desperately loves Lilah, so when she has the realization that she may not go to the wedding, or could ruin it with the divorce, she stays silent to keep everything for Lilah, and she decides to work through it since it was long ago.  This is a shot in the dark, I could be totally wrong, it was just interesting to me that the second she thinks about Lilah is where she decides that she will not confront him.

My favorite line from the story is when she says she’d never had a soul mate before.

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