Literary Analysis Essay on Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Published: 2021-08-18
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Carnegie Mellon University
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Research paper
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In Olive Kitteridge, the book shows the different stages of life as well as choices that defines Olive life as she grows and acts the role of a jealous and insecure mother. The book shows different transformations in the life of Olive and how she perceives different stages and decisions that she makes in life. In the chapter, a little burst the chapter shows the negative side of Olive as the character of hate as she encounters the sad part of life when Christopher decides to get married. Olive responds with hate as she deliberately interrupts the life of Christopher by disrupting the new wife happy little bubble through her actions of bitterness and vandalism towards the Christopher new life as she sets her mind into making the wife uncomfortable (Fulton, Deirdre, 2008).

In the chapter, a little burst Olive decides to engage in petty crimes which is an approach to console her sad self as she further aims at increasing her grip over her son`s life. In the chapter "a different road" Olive is elderly, and she shows some concern for Henry when thugs accost them. Olive begs for the life of Henry which shows a significant change of heart and attitude as she fears what the thugs are capable of doing to her husband who is arrogant towards the thieves. When the thief asks Olive whether Henry is his husband, Olive responds with a nod and further apologizes for the arrogant terms that his husband use which rattles the thieves. Olive blames Henry arrogant nature to his mother who was also arrogant. "You'd have to know his mother. His mother was full of pious crap." As the story advances, the character of Olive transforms from a courageous and independent woman in which she shows signs of insecurity and also a caring wife when her husband becomes unwell in the Tulips chapter. In this chapter, Olive shows her insecure and frightened character (Guaccerro 270).

In "Pharmacy", Olive is jealousy of Denise, a woman in her young age whose husband is murdered in a hunting accident. Olive in this chapter has no time for his husband Henry Kitteridge, she has stopped accompanying him to church like they used to do. In pharmacy, it is certain that Olive had a bad attitude towards life, in one instance Henry his husband wished to invite Denise and his husband for dinner. However Olive refuted with the claims that she was overwhelmed with family work and personal troubles. Olives jealous intensified when Henrys feelings begun to change from mere friendship towards romantic. Olive is described by loneliness; she would rather stay at home with Henry than to befriend another couple. Olive is also described by infidelity, from this chapter it is clear that she had committed adultery in the past with Jim OCasey and this made Henry justify his feelings towards Denise (Randolph, 122).

"A Little Burst," Olive overhears a conversation between her son Christopher and his wife. Olive intends to infringe his son's privacy by hiding in a spare room of the house after the wedding ceremony in her hideout; Olive overhears Suzanne criticizing his son's undefined "difficult" childhood. Suzanne goes ahead to criticize Christopher's entire family, and she goes further by making fun of Olive's dress. Olive is still eavesdropping, she ranges with anger and decides to revenge, and before she leaves the reception with her husband. Olive picks a winter sweater from Olives closet and destroys it by smearing it with a black magic marker. Olives ill intentions go further when she decides to steal a single shoe from her daughters-in-law shoe rack, she also departs with Suzannes bra decorated with lace.

In "A Different Road," Olive and Henry are taken the hostage in a hospital bathroom upon which they get into an intense argument. Olive and Henry are in the hospital because while driving home from a dinner party, Olive falls sick. The fact that Olive spared time for Henry to go for dinner indicates that Olive was changing gradually (Mayburry, 172). In the chapter pharmacy Olive could hardly spare time for Henry, she had even stopped accompanying him to church. In this chapter, there is significant antagonism between Olive and her family, and she displays significance contempt for his husband. Olive only takes care of herself, and she does not have time for any other family member. However, at the end of the chapter, Olive was a bit cautious about her actions towards her family. Later in the chapter, Olive and Henry argument in the bathroom indicated that Olive had begun caring about other family members feelings when she accuses Henry of being anti-Semitism. They also discuss regard to the sensitive topic of Christophers moving out upon which Henry pins the blame on Olive because of her insensitivity and unaccommodating character. Olive was always moody a factor that Christopher could no longer accommodate because he was a married man and her wife was becoming increasingly sensitive and worried of her place in the family with a disrespectful mother in law.

Olive changes as she grows, her actions were extremely different as considered due to the fact that she visited Henry frequently when he had a stroke and was hospitalized in a nursing home. Olive`s increased care and attention towards her sick husband shows that she had changed her perspective towards him (Strout 267). In the chapter Tulips, surprisingly Olive visited Henry every day and talked to him to give him hope and ensure he does not despair while at the hospital. Besides, Olive paid a visit to Louise Larkin an acquaintance of the Kitteridge as the sign of thanking her for sending a sympathy card to them due to Henrys situation and ill health. The immediate Olive`s change of heart shocks everybody as she becomes extremely sensitive and caring towards those close to him whereas previously she was skeptical towards other people close to her. As time passed by, it is clear that Olive had become more emotionally aware due to the affection she showed towards her husband. However, Louise Larkin accuses Olive that her visit was not genuine instead she visited to feel better upon seeing Louise's misery.

In "Basket of Trips," Olive's funeral attendance of the towns grocer Tom Bonney is an indication that Olive had changed, she was hoping that her attendance would comfort his grieving widow. However, Marlene, Booneys wife was so much affected by her husbands death such that Olives presence was not of any help. Unlike other cases, Olive attendance of the towns grocer`s burial main objective was to get solace by giving Marlene companion during her time of grief. Her attendance and willing tendency to show care shows that Olive had changed significantly because unlike in the past she actually helped someone who was going through a difficult time when before then Olive only cared about herself and her greed for attention and control over her son; Olive helped Marlene throw away her "basket of trip a significant sign of change of life and attitude towards other people in her life. The basket of trips was a basket filled with brochures for a vacation that Marlene had planned with her husband.

In security,' we see Olive's excitement when his son invites her to stay with them and help out his pregnant daughter in law. In this chapter, Olive shows a significant change of heart since previously she was competing for attention and her goal was to control her son. The fact that Olive honors his sons invitation indicates a change of heart towards the right direction (Kriebernegg, 215). Initially, Olive was full of anger; she was also paranoid making the life for Christopher and his wife unbearable and miserable since she was the reason they moved out in the first place. Additionally, in this chapter, we see that Olive has changed when she actually stays for a while before starting a fight in her sons house yet his second wife had two children from two different fathers. Olives temper and mood swings prevailed in the house when Christopher was a young boy; therefore the fact that at first Olive was noble before being provoked indicated that she had changed a great deal and she meant well for everyone. The fact that Olive honored her sons invitation and was glad to be part of his life shows that she had changed her perceptive towards her son.

In the chapter "River," Olive changes her perspective towards the world, at first, Olive was a bitter woman characterized with jealousy, selfishness, mood swings, anger and bad tempers which scared everybody she met in the community away. However, after Henry's death, in her routine walks in the park by the river she met Jack who similarly was going through a tough ordeal in life. Jack Kennison, turned Olive`s life around, just like Olive, Jack was grieving over his wife, who had died recently (Guaccerro 269). Olive began spending her time with Jack, they even went for meals together, something that Olive found difficult to do with Henry, Jacks presence made to Olive feels emotion, she actually admitted that awakening beside Jack was a special moment that brought happiness that she has not felt before since she was always angry at everyone around which made people around her to treat her with contempt. Knowing Jack gave Olive's life a new meaning even though they fought occasionally due to their distinct political opinions, they made up again. Jack and Olive had one major thing in common; they both had lousy relationships with their respective children. Jack changed how Olive saw the world such that she realized that she had a new chance in life, Olive was ready to face another chance in life comprised of love for Jack (Fulton 279). Olive reflects on her past, she learns that she could have been a better companion to Henry, as she is to jack unfortunately she missed the chance, however her change of heart was not too late.

Works cited

Fulton, Deirdre. "" Books" piece with a review of" Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories," written b." (2008).

Guaccero, Susan. "Standing in the Spaces with Olive Kitteridge, By Elizabeth Strout." (2010): 411-415.

Kriebernegg, Ulla, Roberta Maierhofer, and Barbara Ratzenbock, eds. Alive and Kicking at All Ages: Cultural Constructions of Health and Life Course Identity. Vol. 5. transcript Verlag, 2014.

Maybury, Karol K. "The influence of a positive psychology course on student well-being." The teaching of Psychology 40.1 (2013): 62-65.

Randolph, Ladette. "ABOUT ELIZABETH STROUT: A Profile." Ploughshares 36.1 (2010): 174-179.

Strout, Elizabeth. Olive Kitteridge. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

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