marginal(ising) Mothers and Transitional Objects in William Trevor's Cheating at Canasta
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AbstractTrevor’s mastery of the short story, the most apt genre to represent marginality, is often connected to the economy of his means to characterize a situation. This article focuses on Trevor’s Cheating at Canasta (2007), where objects are used as ‘objective correlatives’ of a mood, but also as ‘transitional objects’. This term of Christopher Bollas refers to an object which replaces the mother. In ‘The Dressmaker’s Child’ the Madonna refers to the ‘good enough mother’: the statue brings the protagonist, Cahal, in a ‘generative mood’ in which he feels in contact with his ‘unthought known’, aspects of himself he learns to face thanks to the mediation of the transitional object. The Joycean epiphany is replaced with the Madonna’s secular miracle when Cahal swaps his false self (being a commodity in his parental world) for his real self (being an oddity in the margins of society). On the contrary, Molly, the protagonist of ‘At Olivehill’, rearranges her life around the image of a Madonna which was a favourite of her dictating mother-in-law, who demanded her to mirror the ‘false self’ of the family ethos. Thus, Molly’s focus the family’s Madonna ‘converts’ her to the family’s claustrophilic past.
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