Study Guide

Audrey Griffin in Where'd You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Audrey Griffin

Audrey is Darth Vader in reverse, transforming over the course of the story from our heroes' most-hated foe to their closest ally. Eat that, Anakin.

Queen of the NIMBYs

Initially, Audrey is the living embodiment of everything Bernadette hates about Seattle. She's the most hostile of the Galer Street Gnats, the uptight school moms at her daughter's school. She's a rude, unwelcoming neighbor. She parents an awful kid, Kyle, who she refuses to admit deals drugs even when the evidence is right in her face. Then there's the whole framing Bernadette for running over her foot thing. That's just fraud.

The Great Blackberry Incident is the most brutal of their battles. Fresh off her disastrous fundraising brunch, the failure of which she blames on Bernadette, Audrey verbally annihilates her foe. Here's a particularly nasty body blow from Audrey:

"My point is, you come in her with your Microsoft money and think you belong. But you don't belong. You never will." (1.647)

According to Bee, it's this incident that spurs Bernadette's mental breakdown, despite other people's theories to the contrary. The relationship between these two must run deep.

Breaking Good

Audrey's turning point comes when she learns that Bernadette is being locked up in a mental institution. Though they were locked in combat, Audrey always saw it as a fun, Batman vs. Superman-type rivalry, not an Iron Man vs. Thanos battle to the death. Not to mention, Audrey's lies directly contributed to making Bernadette seem crazy. She deserves some of the blame.

So Audrey saves the day. Not only does she swoop in at the last second and rescue Bernadette, but she also documents the entire experience and forwards the intel to Bee so she can know the truth about her mom. No wonder Bernadette says that Audrey changed from her "devil" to her "angel" (7.7). For all the terrible things she does, she pulls through when it counts.

This shift is transformative for Audrey's own life as well. She finally admits that Kyle has a drug problem, enrolling him in a rehab program and spending some time away from Seattle. By the end, she tells Soo-Lin that she's "not the same woman" she was before, though she's still "not sure" who she's becoming (5.35). This isn't the end of her journey, but she's on a much better path now. Just be sure to stay away from those blackberry brambles.

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