Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Visions of Seattle

By Maria Semple

Visions of Seattle

See, that's why I call the mothers there "gnats." Because they're annoying, but not so annoying that you actually want to spend valuable energy on them. (1.128)

"Galer Street Gnats" are Bernadette's least favorite native species of Seattle. But they're not bugs...they're the cliquey moms at Bee's school. They hate Bernadette and Bernadette hates them, with this tension coming to color Bernadette's feelings towards Seattle as a whole.

The Samantha 2 guys, and Elgin in particular, are like rock stars around here. (1.380)

Unlike his wife, Elgin loves Seattle. As one of the biggest stars in one Seattle's biggest companies, he holds a quasi-celebrity status, especially within the walls of Microsoft.

"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)

Audrey Griffin, the gnattiest gnat of them all, wants to send Bernadette a message: Seattle just isn't that into you either. Sorry, not sorry. From Audrey's perspective, Bernadette is a rude invader who's openly hostile to her hometown. Why would Audrey give her the time of day?

All the energy she had once channeled so fearlessly into architecture she turned toward fulminating about Seattle (1.684)

Don't get Bernadette started on the city's notorious five-way intersections unless you have a few hours to kill. It seems that Bernadette has become entirely consumed by her hatred of Seattle, using it as a proxy for all the other bad stuff going on in her life.

Elgie ended up loving it here. Who knew that our Elgin had a bike-riding, Subaru-driving, Keen-wearing alter ego just waiting to bust out? (2.134)

Elgin fits in so well in Seattle that Bernadette can't help but wonder if this was his true self all along. Was he putting on a false front back in L.A.? Do they still want the same things out of life? And is there such a thing as too much Starbucks? All these questions swirl around Bernie's head.

Seattle. I've never seen a city so overrun with runaways, drug addicts, and bums. (2.173)

This quote goes to show how downright nasty Bernadette gets in her trash-talking. But she's also making a very real point about the disparity between Seattle's hyper-liberal aspirations and the lived reality of its most disadvantaged residents.

I mean, Galer Street smelled like salmon, but at least the people were normal. (6.38)

Bee has a different perspective on Seattle than her mom. That makes sense given that Bee was born and raised in the rainy city. It's the only home she's ever known.

The unutterable truth: Galer Street was the best thing that ever happened to me, because they took fantastic care of you. (7.47)

Seattle only redeems itself in Bernadette's eyes through her love for her daughter. Bee is a Seattle native, after all, so Bernadette can't pretend that the city is all bad. Her favorite person in the entire world is a Seattleite.

All those ninnies have it wrong. The best thing about Seattle is the weather. (7.100)

Okay, we were onboard for this sea change from Bernadette, but now we're jumping ship. She likes getting caught in the rain every day? No wonder she wants to move to Antarctica.

Your friends in Seattle are downright Canadian in their niceness. None of you has a cell phone. (7.102)

Despite being a major city, Seattle seems like a quaint place. This quality used to infuriate Bernadette, but now she can appreciate it for how much it's played a part in making Bee the person she is today.

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