In the short story “Mrs. Turner Cutting the Grass” by Carol Shields, the ideology of not judging a book by its cover can be seen as a main theme of the story as it shows the main character, Geraldine being judged by everyone that surrounds her all throughout her life. Shields demonstrates this by taking the audience on a journey through her life giving the reader flashbacks of her life as a young teen to a sight to see on a hot afternoon in June, giving a perspective of a static character development as she remains stubborn and oblivious all throughout her life. This is depicted through third person narration, which presents a conflict of man vs. society point of view within Mrs. Turner’s life. The narration throughout the story is in third person as the narrator always refers to the main character as Mrs. Turner, Geraldine or Girlie instead of using the first person perspective.
The point of view is from a single narration that is omniscient since we are given other characters perspectives towards Mrs. Turner and how they feel about her. Throughout the story, she is depicted as impulsive, rebellious, getting herself stuck in bad situations and instead of working out her problems she runs away. The Man vs. Society conflict perspective can be seen through the way other people evaluate her and her life choices. She is negatively judged, for example, by the way she carelessly the cuts the grass, her negligent use of the weed killer and even in the professor’s poem “The Golden Pavilion”, which contrasts the American tourist, in this case represented by Geraldine and her sisters, describing Geraldine as a “little pug of a women” against the majesty and beauty of the golden pavilion of Kyoto Japan.
The professor, in this poem, depicts her ignorance and outward appearance in a negative light implying a shallow, superficial life. Interestingly, we are told little about how the character sees herself. Given the fact that Geraldine dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen and worked at the Boissevain Dairy until the age of nineteen, it could be assumed that perhaps her life was really quite difficult.
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