Study Guide

Woman on the Edge of Time Love

By Marge Piercy


Anybody would think she had loved her daughter. (2.52)

Connie's crying here because she sees a girl about her daughter's age. The authorities took Angelina away from her because she hit Angelina once and broke her wrist. Connie's anger here is in part at the folks who took Angelina away. But she's also angry with herself for hitting her daughter, and she to some degree feels she didn't love Angelina… or didn't deserve to love her.

She should have loved her better, but to love you must love yourself, she knew that now, especially to love a daughter you see as yourself reborn. (3.12)

Connie doesn't love herself in part because the society she's in doesn't love poor people, or Latinos, or women. She does better at loving herself in Mattapoisett, because the culture there tells her she's lovable.

They talked passionately, sitting side by side against a wall, sometimes interrupting the flow by half an hour or an hour… Too much animation, too obvious a pleasure in each other's company would bring down punishment. The hospital regarded Sybil as a lesbian. Actually she had no sex life. (4.25)

The hospital is really into regulating love. They don't want the patients to like each other; they don't want any expression of intimacy, physical or otherwise. That mentally healthy people don't love seems to be the working model.

"But I think we often settle for sex when we want love. And we often want love when we need something else, like a good job or a chance to go back to school." (4.31)

Love is often seen as something that can transcend bad times, or transform them—like Cinderella's prince rescuing her from drudgery. Connie here thinks that maybe Cinderella (or is that Connie?) wanted a prince because she couldn't become a research geneticist.

"Unstable dyads, fierce and greedy, trying to body the original mother-child bonding. It looks tragic and blind!" (6.155)

This is what the future people think about our nuclear families back here in the present. Marriage with just two partners is greedy and tragic and blind. Love more, love better, sleep with all until the hippie lovelight shines! (We've mentioned that the people of the future are all hippies, right?)

"But a person wants to couple with everybody."

"Aw, not everybody. Not all of the time." (7.5-6)

Jackrabbit is insisting that he only wants to sleep with just about everybody just about all of the time. This is presented as fun and funny… though a couple people also say that having Jackrabbit love them and leave them was a bit upsetting. But because the future is easy about sex and love, Jackrabbit's jumping and hopping from person to person is amusing rather than a tragedy or a disaster (like Connie's marriage to Eddie was).

Martín's love had given her worth. She had feared the loss of his love every day. She spent her time fearing it, walking the line of decorum like a tightrope, lowering her eyes to all other men, speaking only when spoken to. (12.37)

Connie loved Martín, but her love makes her adopt a stereotypical feminine role. Given what we know about Connie from the rest of the novel, could she have kept that up for the rest of her life? Would her relationship with Martín have worked if he hadn't died?

"Dawn is too young to comprehend why you love her. But we love you back." (12.75)

Connie loves Dawn because Dawn reminds her of her daughter. The love Connie sees in the future often comes out of her memories. Which could mean the future is just in her head, or could mean that you make the love you want in the future out of the love you had in the past.

Because he was too beautiful and tempted them, they had fixed him. (13.120)

The doctors "cured" Skip's homosexuality. Connie is saying that men are scared of Skip because they're scared of the possibility of homosexuality in themselves.

Only one person to love. Just one little corner of loving of my own. For that love I'd have borne it all and I'd never have fought back. I would have obeyed. I would have agreed that I'm sick, that I'm sick to be poor and sick to be sick and sick to be hungry and sick to be lonely and sick to be robbed and used. (19.78)

Would it have been good for Connie to agree that she's sick? Would love have made her even more oppressed? It's not clear; in Mattapoisett, people don't have to choose between love and self-respect. It seems like Connie shouldn't have to either.