Little Lies Everywhere: Untangling Truths in Twenty-First Century Maternal Fiction
Baker, Kathryn Elise
Lying mothers are having a cultural moment. The past ten years have seen the rise of books and television shows which center mothers who lie and keep secrets from their children, such as the wildly popular Bridgerton and Ginny and Georgia. This thesis explores the root causes and effects of maternal dishonesty in four contemporary novels— Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (2014), Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere (2017), Lisa Ko’s The Leavers (2017), and Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half (2020). Analysis of these novels forces us to abandon our preconceived notions of lying as a universally unethical act. I argue that the whys behind maternal lies are more important than the lies themselves because they reveal important truths regarding our societal treatment of mothers. I reference a wide range of texts including book reviews, trial coverage, psychological surveys, academic essays, and personal reflections to emphasize how the societal fixation with mothers who lie (more broadly bad mothers) pervades the literary and media realms. Though I do not attempt to diminish the pain that these mothers’ lies inflict on their children, a principle goal of this thesis is to convey that mothers hurt too. They experience sexual assault, poverty, racism, governmental neglect, unsolicited advice, and more; many may not even have wanted to mother in the first place. Acknowledging and sitting with this fact is simply the first step in understanding, at least superficially, the maternal condition. With this understanding we can work toward eliminating the whys behind maternal lies until maybe, just maybe, mothers no longer feel like they need to lie at all.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Jayne, Ian Michael (Georgetown University, 2020)In this thesis, I argue that contemporary forms of American and British queer realism—specifically, those focused on gay masculinity—are consistently attenuated by narrative invocations of the utopic mode. I analyze Alan ...