Study Guide

A Northern Light Daisy and Baldwin

By Jennifer Donnelly

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Daisy and Baldwin

Few women enjoy being compared to a cow, but we just have to say that Daisy is kind of like Mamma Gokey. Figuratively, Shmoopsters, not literally. Sheesh.

Just like Daisy breaks down fences to be with the Loomis's bull, so did Mamma break down society's fences surrounding class in order to be with Pa. And just as Daisy undergoes terrible suffering until she's eventually put out of her misery, so too is Mamma ravaged by cancer before she dies. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Daisy's death leaves her calf Baldwin an orphan—and while the Gokey girls technically still have Pa, he really checks out after Mamma dies, leaving his daughter emotionally orphaned.

Check out how Lou reacts to Daisy's death and how she treats Baldwin to see what we're talking about with this whole Daisy/Mamma Baldwin/Gokey girls idea:

As soon as she was able, Lou went into the pasture after him. She offered him little lumps of maple sugar, but he wouldn't take them. She scratched behind his ears and rubbed his neck, but he pulled. She wasn't what he wanted; he wanted Daisy. But he couldn't have Daisy, so he finally took what was offered.

Like we all do. (36.fugacious.26-27)

Sure seems like Mattie recognizes the parallels here in that last line, doesn't it? Like Baldwin, Lou felt abandoned and inconsolable after her mother's death. And like Baldwin, Lou and her sisters have to make do with what's offered after their mom dies, even though it's not as good as the original. It's a bummer, but Daisy and Baldwin are really great symbols for Mamma and her daughters.

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