I choose Babe as the character that I would make a “through-line. ” She has one of the more detailed and complex background stories. They are complex, because it is not extremely evident why they are significant. However, once one deeply analyzes her character, it becomes evident why these stories about her are so important in trying to understand Babe. Babe’s ultimate goal is to understand her complex reality. Unlike the other Magrath sisters, she has been deeply pondering the reason behind her mother’s suicide. She even goes so far as to think about it before each suicide attempt told in the novel.
Each time, she feels closer to her mother due to her self-discoveries. For example, she is extremely happy to learn that her mother hung the old, yellow cat not out of hatred but out of fear of loneliness in the afterlife. She is also one of the few characters that try to understand Meg’s promiscuous and crazy personality. Babe describes the after affects Meg had after finding their mother dead. According to Babe, Meg would look at pictures of people diseased or in pain in order to prove that she was not weak. This desire to appear strong translated into other areas of Meg’s life.
The way Babe tries to accomplish her goal of understanding her reality is by acting like a child. Babe sees the world through a child’s lens. She asks many questions, cannot control her emotions, and does not understand social norms. One example where she cannot control her emotions is when her sister is in the room and she tries to claw out the rope from the drawer. Rather than discreetly take the rope, she feels the need to claw it out and kill herself immediately. Similar to a child, she also does not understand social norms or their consequences.
While Babe is pretty and has men after her such as the young lawyer, she prefers small children. Babe cares for and has sexual relations with a small boy, Willie Jae, who is only 15 years old. It seems she feels better connected with young children, versus adults her age. Additionally, Willie is African American. During such a time, having just contact between the two could have led to significant punishment for the both of them. Rather than simply understanding her situation, she appears oblivious to it. When Willie Jae must go north for protection, she asks why.
It seems she does not completely understand the way certain races are viewed in society. Her act as a child saves her in the end. Her lawyer had a fanatical obsession with his personal vendetta against Zachary; however, he gave that up for her sake. He loved and cared for Babe’s child-like and kind personality. Babe has probably used her perceived child-like innocence before. As she tries to understand the world, her child-like characteristics both help her and are a detriment to her.
Through-line: -Dad abandons her and her sisters Mother hangs herself in the cellar along with the old, yellow cat. Mother ends up on the national news -Grandfather calls her dancing sugarplum. -Marries Zachary while drunk. Grandfather believes she will become the top of society. -Is physically abused by her husband and pushed around by her sister-in-law, Lucille -Gets a dog called Dog from Willie Jae, 15 year-old African American boy. She has sexual intercourse in the garbage several times -Zachary comes home early and hits Willie Jae. Babe is suicidal, but instead tries to kill Zachary. Makes lemonade and then calls an ambulance.