Matthew S. Burkholder
Mrs. Cindy LaCom
The novel Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, takes place in the fictional town of Fingerbone. Fingerbone is a dreary little town that is prone to flooding and misfortune. The story begins by explaining how their grandfather was killed in a train wreck. More hardship comes when their mother borrows their neighbor's car and drives it off a cliff. After their mothers suicide Lily and Nora come to help raise the main character Ruthie, and her sister Lucille. Not soon after the grandmothers feel they are ill suited to raise two young girls and send for their Aunt Sylvie to come live with them. The girls soon discover their aunt is a lot different than the average resident of Fingerbone. She has an unnecessary supply of newspapers and tin cans, and she doesn't like to turn the lights on in the house. She also adopts a number of stray cats and takes a midday nap on a park bench in town square.
Even stranger she carries crackers in her pocket for the make-believe children in the woods and disappears into the mountains for days at a time. Her lack of responsibility has a splitting effect on the sisters own relationship. Ruthie is a tall and awkward teenager. She never seems to fit in at school, and badly wants to follow Sylvie's free-spiritedness. But the younger Lucille wants stability and has the need to belong. Lucille tries to help her older sister change, but is met with resistance from Ruthie. Lucille decides she has had enough and goes to live with a teacher from school. Unfortunately the townspeople of Fingerbone this that Aunt Sylvie is a bad influence and that she should get her act together. But Ruthie and Sylvie cannot conform, and so they...