Study Guide

Bev Kennedy (Ma) in I Am the Messenger

By Markus Zusak

Bev Kennedy (Ma)

Moms kiss our boo-boos and tell us we're the smartest, prettiest kid on the playground… or they're supposed to anyway. Bev Kennedy clearly didn't get the memo, though. She's not interested in babying Ed or even throwing him a compliment once in a while, because she's really honest with him. And by really, we totally mean brutally. Ed tells us that she's "one of those tough women you couldn't kill with an ax. She's also developed a bit of a swearing habit" (1.2.43). Is it just us, or is she about as far away from Mrs. Brady as you can get?

Ma's not shy about her feelings about her son. While all her other kids are off achieving things, Ed's stuck in a rut, and she's the first one to point it out to him. She's a constant nag, always reminding him that he's amounted to nothing, so we've pretty much written her off as a snarky old nag by the time she yells at Ed: "'Believe it or not— it takes a lot of love to hate you like this'" (3.10.54). Seriously—there isn't even a slightly gentler way she could put things?

We can't help but wonder if Ed deserves everything Ma throws his way. Sure she wants him to make something of himself and do something with his life, but perhaps she's also taking some pent up anger out on Ed too. She's got a lot of it to go around, what with his dad being a bit of a deadbeat—and now just dead—and all. Ed's bummed that his mom cheated on his old man, but she thinks she had good reason to since he was a drunk who always made empty promises.

Whether Bev was justified in her affair isn't quite as important in our minds as the way this plays out for our main man Ed. His realization that his mom is in fact a whole person, complete with her own desires and hopes and dreams, comes as quite a shock to him. It looks like Bev isn't just a mom with a potty mouth—she's got a life of her own that Ed wasn't even aware of.

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