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    A Summary of Robinson's Housekeeping 

           The two young girls, Ruth and Lucille are abandoned by a series of caregivers because their father leaves and their mother commits suicide.  Thus, they are under the care of a series of family members: grandmother, two great ants and finally their ant, Sylvie. 
        The family house is in the small town on a glacial lake in West.  The lake is where their grandfather died in a train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to death.  Then, The two sisters gradually become different after Sylvie comes.  Sylvie is a transient so her way of keeping house is also different from the conventional ones that are emphasized on a clean and order house.  For example, Sylvie likes keep the door and window open in order to break the boundary between nature and her house.   Actually, Ruth and Lucille have different views toward Sylvie and her housekeeping.  Finally, they develop different subjectivity: Lucille follows her home-economic teacher to join the conventional and stable way of female life; Ruth chooses to follow Sylvie to be a drifter.  In the end of the story, Ruth and Sylvie fire the house and begin their wandering life of being transients.   Therefore, the house which the grandmother tries to keep for her whole life cannot be kept at all.

  1. Chapters:


Grandfather's going to Fingerbone and the train's derailment;
Grandmother's housekeeping and serving as a care-taker (mother) twice. 
*Circular narration


Aunt Lily and Nona


Sylvie's arrival--> Ruth confuses Sylvie with Helen. (52-53)--> the house is Sylvie's


The flood, which transforms Fingerbone. 


Ruthie and Lucille play truant and go to the lake, seeing Sylvie on the bridge. 
Sylvie's housekeeping


[Summer] Ruthie and Lucille frequent the lake (resurrection 96) and the woods; Lucille's preference for having the room lit and her questions of Sylvie.  


[Summer] Ruthie and Lucille have different views of their mother.  Ruthie and Lucille go to the woods, fishing and then staying there overnight.  There both of them have a dream.--> Lucille makes up her mind to change her life.

Separation between Ruth and Lucille starts, with Lucille's getting interested in making dresses, studying, making friends, not talking to her at school and going to dances.   Ruth gets lonelier, wanting to use reading Latin to distract herself.  --> Lucille decides to live at the Home Economic teacher's. --> Sylvie: "We'll be better friends."  


Sylvie and Ruth go to the valley between the mountains where there are lost children. 
Ruth's identification with lost children, and the ideas of tearing down their house and disembodying herself emerge. 
* Images of birth 


The town intervenes in stopping Ruth from becoming a transient.  Sylvie tries to improve herself by doing housekeeping well, and planning on having a thanksgiving party. -> There will be a hearing.


Ruth shows her unwillingness to be separated; her pre-occupation with family deaths in the lake.  She re-writes the history of Creation by having it developed through family fragmentation, with the memory of the garden (where we sleep as one child in mother Eve) pulls us forward.  She tries to imagine what would have happened if her mother does not commit suicide.

Ruth and Sylvie keep on doing the housekeeping work.  They burn away all the old magazines, newspapers, and books.  Ruth plays hide-and-seek with Sylvie, only to be found by the sheriff.  
*Circular narration about the past.


They burn down the house and cross the bridge. 
*Circular narration about what happen to them while and after crossing the bridge.
1st -- They cross the bridge with Ruth thinking about the house's being burned behind her back.  --> She thinks of the time they spent with their mother in the park.
2nd -- "LAKE CLAIMS TWO. . .  .It happened many years ago." 
When did I become so unlike other people." --> Her whole life of loss recounted in brief.
--> "Something happened . . ."
--> "I will try to tell you the plain truth."  They wander as transients, trying to find Lucille in Boston without success. 
3rd "All this is fact.  Fact explains nothing."  "Perhaps" Lucille lives in the old house.  "Or Imagine" Lucille in Boston.