Matter-of-Fact

“Here the baby was born, and here it died, and then Rose went back to her house again with Sam” (Stein 89).

“During this year ‘Mis’ Herbert as her neighbors called her, Melanctha’s pale yellow mother was very sick, and in this year she died” (Stein 110).

This narrative is written from the point of view of a third person limited narrator in the character-bound focalization of Melanctha. The way in which the narrator writes the story, and these two peculiar statements in particular, is very telling of Melanctha’s character: She is able to write without emotion or any subjectivity about the deaths of two people, one being a newborn baby and the other being the main character’s mother. The narrator says very simply the facts of what happened, as if she is reporting about the weather. This lack of feeling is consistent with Melanctha’s lack of wisdom and experience. She wants to learn how to love and feel deeply, but her detachment from Rose’s baby and ‘Mis’ Herbert causes her to not express any kind of emotions when mentioning the events of their deaths. The main character does not yet understand the world and what it expects of her, but she is desperately trying to figure that out.

Gertrude Stein, “Melanctha,” in Three Lives (New York: The Grafton Press, 1909).

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