Maxine by Gurney Norman

February 3, 2014
By Ms.Marie GOLD, Greensburg, Kentucky
Ms.Marie GOLD, Greensburg, Kentucky
12 articles 30 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
James 2:24- you see a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone

As we go through life we often find that circumstances may change the way we look at things. Unfortunately in Gurney Norman’s “Maxine,” we see this is true with the main character Maxine. We are able to take a look into the mind of Maxine and several struggles she is encountering through her rough and weathered life. We see Maxine’s cousin Wilgus trying to help Maxine with her struggles. Even though Wilgus helps Maxine momentarily feel young again, the reality is that Maxine’s low self esteem, age, and her daughter’s failure in life have greatly affected her outlook on things.

To begin with, throughout this story we can see how Maxine struggles with low self esteem. In fact in the book she quotes, “When it was over I’d shoot myself. Blow my brains out with a big ol’ .44.” When Maxine makes this statement we as readers can interpret that she feels so little of herself that taking her own life seems like a small ordeal. Maxine’s cousin Wilgus who is trying to help Maxine responds to this startling statement by telling Maxine, “No, now Maxine. You don’t want to do that.” Despite Wilgus’s effort to help Maxine we see Maxine’s character trait of this extremely low self esteem shine through once again when Maxine effortlessly sips her wine and says, “Don’t bet on it.” This lets us as readers of this story see how that no matter who tries to help Maxine and convince her otherwise, that her life seems to have such little value. This all generates around this one character trait of Maxine, her low self esteem that has greatly affected her outlook on life.

In addition to seeing how Maxine’s low self esteem has affected her outlook on life, we can also very clearly see that Maxine’s age has been a huge factor as well. In “Maxine” we see a very important clue that tells us how her age has become such an influence on her. The story quotes, “After staring out the window at the dark familiar shape of her house she said, “This place feels like the end of the world to me.”” When Maxine says this place feels like the end of the world to her she is not necessarily telling us that her age is another factor, however as readers we are able to look inside Maxine’s mind and see what pain her age has caused. Maxine describes the home as “familiar” and “dark”. Maxine is saying that this place she has always known, (meaning that she has known this house for many years referring to age), is as she quoted “dark”. Maxine feels like this home she has become so accustomed to, is now her final stop in life. She says “It feels like the end of the world to me.” When Maxine says “The end of the world” she means she has given up and she is too old to do anything but make her home her final resting place after a long weathered life. This is how we can look into Maxine’s thoughts and statements to see how her age has become a key factor in affecting her outlook on life as well.

Not only has Maxine’s low self esteem and age affected her, but her daughter’s failure in life has affected her life as well. When Wilgus picks up Maxine we see Maxine ranting to Wilgus about her daughter named Cindy. Maxine explains Cindy’s living conditions to Wilgus in a way that we can almost hear the frustration and anger in her voice. Maxine says, “Cindy was living in the dingiest hotel I ever seen…. No windows, no bathroom, nothing.” Maxine’s frustrations come from being a mother who wants the best for her daughter. We as readers are able to see the level of frustration Maxine’s daughter Cindy has caused her when Maxine rants about Cindy for several paragraphs and continues to take out her frustration on wine. The fact that we see Maxine continuously drinking it’s almost as if she is attempting to get away from the pain Cindy has caused her by being such a failure. The story quotes, “Maxine took another drink of wine, then lit a cigarette.” We can also see how that Maxine is almost feeling Cindy’s pain because she loves her so much and knows of her potential. Maxine tells Wilgus, “If Cindy was looking for something worthless to take up with, she sure found it.” When we read this we see how that Maxine looks at her daughter’s life and feels like that she is doing everything possible to fail in life by, “looking for something worthless.” As Maxine tells all these things to Wilgus we are most definatly able to see how Maxine’s daughter’s failure has also greatly affected her outlook on life.

In closing, we can see that Maxine’s circumstances have affected the way she is able to live. Maxine is a character whose self esteem has drugged her down to the point that taking her own life seems like a simple task. In addition we see how that Maxine’s age makes her feel like she is done with everything. Lastly we are able to see through this story that Maxine’s daughter Cindy has not exactly been what Maxine anticipated, and because of this failure Maxine’s outlook on life continues to differ.

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