Study Guide

Mrs. Travers in Passion

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Mrs. Travers

Mommy Dearest

Mrs. Travers seems an awful lot like Grace. Or maybe Grace is an awful lot like Mrs. Travers. Or maybe they're the same person, and "Passion" is secretly a science fiction story about a woman who goes back in time and meets her younger self.

Whatever the case, the two have a lot in common. Mrs. Travers is the one person who doesn't think Grace was crazy for taking extra high school classes. She likes to read and talk about what she's read, and she's good at post-dinner word games. She's smart and independent and she wears muumuus. Aw yeah.

But, you might view Mrs. Travers a bit differently from Grace. For instance, in addition to admiring her muumuus, Grace is a fan of Mrs. Travers' rough red cheeks, since they're "probably the result of going out in any weather without taking thought of her complexion" (35). And "like her figure, like her muumuus," it's a sign of her independence.

This is absolutely a viable perception, and maybe Grace has this idea of Mrs. Travers because it fits in well with how she sees herself. Grace doesn't want to be like Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride. She doesn't want to be prim, or polished, or a prize for some guy. She wants to be herself, and that doesn't conform to a lot of cultural ideas concerning femininity. So, in a lot of ways, Mrs. Travers is Grace's hero.

Not All That Glitters is Gold

But what if Mrs. Travers doesn't like wearing muumuus? What if she started wearing them because it was easy, and comfortable, and after a long enough time she grew attached to that easy comfort?

We hear that Mrs. Travers was sent to business college instead of real college "because she was told she had to be useful," that now she wishes like anything "that she had crammed her mind instead, or first, with what was useless" (31).

It's awesome that she supports Grace, and that she recognizes learning for learning's sake as a worthwhile endeavor, but there's a hint of defeat with that word, "useless." Not to mention Mrs. Travers is the one who gives us the thoroughly depressing thought that "passion gets pushed behind the washtubs" as we get older.

What if Mrs. Travers, like Grace, was once like Belle in Beauty and the Beast? What if she walked around reading books and occasionally singing about how she wanted adventure in the great wide somewhere? Could an argument be made that she gave up on those dreams and pushed her passion behind the washtubs?

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