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“Mercedes Kane”

I turned that report she wrote for me in and got an F.  The note at the bottom said: “You know you weren’t supposed to get help.”

McCracken’s “Mercedes Kane” brings us into the world of a dysfunctional, immature mother, and a compensating, direly effected daughter.  When we are brought into the story, we see a mother who has never fully grown up, and who most definitely should not have had children to put her insecurities and failed dreams onto.  When the mother failed at being a “child star,” and also failed to see that her parents only wanted what was best for her in regards to her dreams, she never gave up.  Ruthie grew up thinking she was never good enough, never smart enough, or even pretty enough to get her mother’s attention.  This sickened me as a reader, and made me turn pages to see what Ruthie would think, do, and say next as a result of her mother’s abuse.  Mercedes was a symbol in the story that had me as a reader pitying the mother even more.  When Mercedes was brought home, like a sick puppy, the mother’s attention switched from her own daughter, to this complete stranger the mother fantasied about being.  The best part, however, was that Mercedes did not want to be herself, that she also projected her feelings onto other people: being rude to them and denying her God-given talents that others envied.  For me, the main point of this story, or the thought to take away, is that no one will be happy with what God gave them.  No one will be satisfied having straight hair when they want it curly. No one will be happy being artistic instead of book smart.  There is always something that we cannot have but want for the sake of it being unattainable.  McCracken uses a mother daughter relationship to allow us as readers to relate to the story, and to see the effect insecurities have on a family.  When Ruthie’s paper received an “F,” it ended the story with a slap in the face type of resolution: be yourself, because everyone can tell when you’re trying to be someone else.

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