One of the Holland’s best-known novelists, Hannes Meinkema published her first collection of short stories, The Moon eater, in 1974. The following short story, My Mother‘s Name, first appeared in this collection which portrays women’s lives through the eyes of women writers from nine different countries. The situation that she has highlighted in the story reflects her personal life, the divorce of her parents and the arrival of an outsider. This situation offers identical possibilities of despair or contentment.
This story highlights the conflict between a daughter and her mother (Lisbeth). It visualizes the various scenarios, which the daughter and the mother face after the divorce. This divorce completely shattered Lisbeth’s personality and left her daughter hopeless. Lisbeth always knew the way everything was ought to be done but after divorce she became entirely unsure about herself. This incident hit her so badly that she got comprehended from doing anything. She stopped taking her daily meals properly and in result she started to loose her weight drastically. On the other hand, her daughter was in no different situation than hers; she was going through the same trauma as her mother. She forgot how to enjoy her life and this resulted in loss of concentration in her studies.
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Four years passed by in the same manner. The daughter loved her mother more than anything in the world. Her real life was at home, where she and her mother did all the work together. Both were trying to make their life better. Everything started to go wrong when Lisbeth acquired a new friend, Gerrit. Her daughter was fourteen then. Gerrit completely changed Lisbeth’s life and her bond with her daughter. Slowly and gradually, Lisbeth stopped sharing her feelings with her daughter. In result, Lisbeth and her daughter started to draw away from each other. Her daughter got jealous upon hearing the news that Gerrit is coming to live with them. She started to hate her mother. She hated her mother because she was the one who brought Gerrit in to the house. She thought that by bringing him into the house, Lisbeth betrayed her. After some time, she realized that she would not achieve anything but sorrow by being jealous. This situation was not easy to co-op with but she still tried her best to change herself.
One day, she and Gerrit were home alone while Lisbeth was at a meeting. She decided to do her homework downstairs. Also, she wanted to have some contact between her and Gerrit. While she was studying, Gerrit started talking to her. After a while, he asked her to join him in having a drink. Gerrit gave her three glass of whisky and started asking her personal questions about her relationships. Gerrit took "full advantage" of the situation while she was drunk. She came to realize what had happened to her in the morning but it was too late. She didn’t know how to tell her mother that her boyfriend (Gerrit) had sex with her.
After some time, she managed to gather some courage and told her mom about what had happened. Upon hearing this news, Lisbeth became quite upset. She relieved some of Lisbeth’s tension by letting her know that they have used the preventative. Later, the daughter heard Gerrit and Lisbeth arguing. This reminded her of the old days, when Lisbeth used to have arguments with her father. Eventually, Gerrit left the house. After Gerrit’s exit from their lives, things were not the same. Lisbeth quit talking to her daughter. Her daughter blamed herself for ruining her mother’s life. So, she decided to talk to her mother about all this mess. She started to cry as she asked her mother the reason of being mad. Lisbeth apologized to her and everything became the same as it used to be.
Hannes Meinkema story effectively develops the theme of misery and degraded state of a child after the separation of the parents. Also, she tells the readers how an outsider can create havoc on a relationship.
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