Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Disappointment

By Maria Semple

Disappointment

If we were Bernadette Fox, we'd be disappointed with life too. She used to be an architect. The hottest in the game. The Jay-Z of making buildings. Then it all disappeared in an instant. Now, this MacArthur Genius Grant-winner is spending her days as a shut-in in Seattle, angrily monologuing about the other moms at her daughter's school. That isn't exactly an upward trajectory. By confronting this reality head-on, Bernadette can give herself a fighting chance at earning a second act. After all, even Jay-Z came back from retirement.

Questions About Disappointment

  1. Does Bernadette blame herself for what happened with her career? Explain. 
  2. How do Bernadette's feelings of disappointment affect her relationship with Seattle? 
  3. What could Bernadette be doing to relieve her feelings of disappointment? 
  4. In what ways does the Straight Gate represent Bernadette's feelings of disappointment?

Chew on This

The Straight Gate's state of leaky disrepair is a fitting symbol of Bernadette's feelings of disappointment and inability to create.

Bernadette blames herself for the downfall of her career, which is what makes it especially hard to get over it.

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