White Olender

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Many authors in the 20th century write novels about relationships that endure hardships between mothers and daughters, in addition to the sexual and physical abuse taking place in today's society. This story a compelling drama for the adolescent reader as well as adult readers. "White Oleander is an unforgettable story of a young girl's journey through a series of foster homes and her efforts to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances." "This young girl has been described as longing for order and connection in a world where even the most intimate bonds can be broken in an instant." (Kirkus review) Janet Fitch portrays the lead character Astrid with what physicologists describe as an "insecure ambivalent attachment style" (Bowlby) in both her parental or her physical relationships. Throughout the novel her identity is questionable: "Her name was lost. Her name was nobody's daughter."(Fitch,112) In White Oleander, Janet Fitch exposes a young women who endures inner and external struggles before she reaches happiness and self-fulfilment.

"The 12 year-old character, Astrid Magnussen, is an only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant but obsessed poet".(Fitch,01) Her father long gone, Astrid loves living with her mother and her mother's boyfriend Barry. This was one of the boyfriend's, who was manipulated by Ingrid's luminous beauty, despite this Astrid felt very close to Barry because he was the only father figure she ever had. Ingrid states, " Father's are irrelevant...I know, I had one"(Fitch,23) Astrid desperately wanted Barry to be her father.

" I sat under a pepper tree ...I practised saying, Can you be my Daddy?"(Fitch,22) "When her mother, Ingrid, is later imprisoned for killing Barry (with poison brewed partly from white oleander flowers), Astrid begins a six year journey of self discovery on her way to adulthood. Though...