Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Visions of Seattle

By Maria Semple

Visions of Seattle

From Nirvana to Pearl Jam, Starbucks to Microsoft, Seattle is city that's made its mark on the world. Rather than giving us a tour of the town from an outsider's perspective, Where'd You Go, Bernadette gives us the insider's insider scoop...and it's not always pretty. In fact, it rarely is, especially given that the book is dominated by Bernadette's anti-Seattle tirades. Once everything is said and done, however, Bernadette gains a new appreciation for the rainy city, her adopted hometown. It has its faults, but there's no place on Earth like it.

Questions About Visions of Seattle

  1. What personal issues is Bernadette projecting onto Seattle? Be specific in your answer. 
  2. Are Bernadette's criticisms of the Galer Street Gnats valid in any way? Why or why not?How might Seattle have been depicted if the novel had been written from Audrey's perspective? 
  3. What does this say about the way that Seattle is portrayed here? 
  4. What qualities of Elgin make him feel so at home in Seattle?

Chew on This

Bernadette projects all her frustrations with her life onto Seattle, which makes her critiques of the city fundamentally meaningless, as they're not responding to reality.

Despite her bias, Bernadette's hostile view of Seattle is justified given the treatment she receives from the mothers at Bee's school.

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