Bodyscape: Isolation, Health, and the Woman’s Voice
move to a house or an apartment in town. The children’s worries include distance,
weather, and the state of the roads: “the farm’s 15 miles from the nearest hospital.
That’s half an hour on these roads, more in the winter – if she can get out at all. Who
knows what could happen?”
On one level, her family’s concern over her health reflects their valuing of her as
the family’s quiet, nurturing force working within the paternal order. Yet, significantly,
this discussion happens without their mother being present. Mom’s voice is excluded
from decision-making. This play does not show a great advancement of the farmwife
becoming an equal participant in financial decisions or even in her own life. It is her
daughter, Tracy, who eventually speaks up for her mother. In doing so, Tracy reveals
the complicated feelings that she has been dealing with in terms of the reality of her
family and the images of farm-women prevalent in the minds of her big-city friends as
You know, when I talk about the farm, and mom, my friends envy me. They see her as the new type of woman: self sufficient, straightforward, sharing the work of the farm. They envy me and I wish I were more like her. When I’m here, I don’t see her strength. All I see is a life wasted spent cooking and cleaning and fetching for Dad half the time and being lied to and cheated and shouted at the other half. I try not to hate her for letting you and Doug take over where Dad left off because you love her. I want her to be happy, to be strong. To be the sort of person she was supposed to be. Not just old Mom, not just the thing you kick whenever the dog isn’t convenient, or shout at because the potatoes are burnt. She has the right to make her own decisions, to be happy just once in her life. Do you want to know the truth? I didn’t come here for Dad’s funeral. I came here for Mom.
Tracy is concerned about her mother. Doug and Billy are more concerned about the
estate. If a woman’s relational voice is to be made part of the patriarchal order, i.e. the