Oswald has an enormous influence over his mother. It's almost as though she's only now ready, in middle age, for someone like him to show her a new way of looking at things. In the first act, he enables her to acknowledge her progressive thoughts about sex and marriage in public. He introduces her to the overwhelming joy that can be pursued in life, precipitating a total change in perspective regarding her husband. And finally, he asks her to give him up her last obligation: motherhood.