Study Guide

Violet in The Usual Rules

By Joyce Maynard


Wendy's new friend Violet is a bit of a rough-and-tumble teenager—nothing like the kids Wendy grew up with in New York City. Violet is a young single mother who just had a baby named Walter Charles; in fact, when she and Wendy meet, they're in the hospital right after Violet gave birth to her baby boy. Violet is determined to take care of her new baby instead of giving him up for adoption like she initially planned:

I wasn't going to keep him but I am, the girl told her. My mom kicked me out of the house. She said she knew if I kept him she'd end up taking care of him, but she's wrong.

If he was mine, I couldn't give him away either, Wendy said. You'd always wonder what happened to him.

That's what I thought. Plus, he's the first person I ever met that's just mine. (16.21-23)

But despite her best efforts, motherhood proves to be too much for Violet. She's overwhelmed by caring for Walter Charles and unprepared for the amount of work and responsibility that she now has. She often wishes that she could go back in time to her old life:

But sometimes, Violet said, I just wish I could run away. Sometimes I want to be my old self again. Walter Charles won't shut up, and I just want to turn him off, only with a baby, you can't. (21.60)

In the end, Violet decides to give Walter Charles up for adoption. She believes he will have the best chance with a family that has the resources to care for him—even though she loves him with all her heart.