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The Sheriff of Fingerbone - an older man (he is a grandfather) who has served as the town sheriff for decades. Although he has dealt with many murders and other violent crimes, he is uncertain how to deal with Sylvie's apparent neglect of Ruth and Lucille. Eventually he informs Sylvie that there will be a hearing regarding Ruth's future. Once alone, it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. Loneliness is an absolute discovery.
Memory might be something like water in the way it rises and recedes. But the memory of loss is particular in its ability to flood, to warp. By contrast, Lucille wants to escape Sylvie’s spell. In an echo of Robinson’s own divided nature, the Stone sisters, inseparable in childhood, begin to grow apart. Ruth, a natural rebel, goes deeper into her family’s dark past; the more conventional Lucille moves away. Then the Fingerbone community steps in. Sylvie’s guardianship is challenged with the threat that she and Ruth should be separated. Robinson believes in family. She writes: “Families will not be broken. Curse and expel them, send their children wandering, drown them in floods and fires, and old women will make songs of all these sorrows and sit on the porch and sing them on mild evenings.”
DS: Was the line "Like a long legged fly upon the stream, his mind moves upon silence"—from Yeats's poem "Long-legged Fly"—in your mind when you were working on this novel?
Both Housekeeping and Gilead have a central theme of creation. Although Gilead explores creation from the standpoint of everything that is created out of nothing, Housekeeping is more centered on the doctrine of the fall. References to Genesis are easily found within Housekeeping. For example, the flood is one of the driving forces for developing the plot and is mentioned on multiple occasions (Robinson 36, 47, 48). The author describes creation outside of ideas of sin or the fall indicating that both terms are inapplicable. Robinson also focuses on what it means to inhabit the world and how it is perceived. These creation-related themes are, therefore, closely connected to ideas of existentialism.
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In the beginning of Chapter 6, Ruthie muses, "Perhaps we all awaited a resurrection." What does she mean by this, and how does this suggest a theme of the novel?