Complex Development

“Melanctha Herbert had not loved herself in childhood. All of her youth was bitter to remember.” (50)

“And Melanctha loved him for it always, her Jeff Campbell now, who never did things ugly, for her, like all the men she always knew before always had been going to her.” (90)

Stein, Gertrude. ” Melanctha” Three Lives.  Mineola: Dover, 1994.  50-90. Print


In Melanctha, the first part of work focuses on her childhood, and how this would shape her into the women described as the book goes on. The first quote sums up that section rather well. It states that she had a bad childhood, from a mean father, to misleading friends. What is interesting is the second quote. She say ‘all the men she always knew before…’, which references her father and the men she interacted with prior to meeting Jeff. This is important because the first quote reminds us that Melanctha did not have a great childhood, one that she tries to block out. Yet, Jeff Campbell is so good to her, that when she does look back at the dark time in her life, she clearly sees she has something better. After keeping to herself, she is willing to open up to this young man. It is the idea that as the book develops, so does the complex protagonist.

Leave a Reply