Study Guide

Year of Wonders Birth

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Over the course of the novel, Anna Frith becomes Eyam's resident midwife. And she's good. She's like the Michael Jordan of delivering babies.

Let's take a look at the two main childbirths in the novel:

  • The Danielses: Although Elinor ropes Anna into helping deliver the Danielses' newborn, Anna ends up taking the lead. She's a natural: she walks away from this experience with a great sense of satisfaction, though she remains haunted by "the phantom echoes of [her] own boys' infant cries" (2.7.57).
  • The Bradfords: Near the end of the novel, Anna delivers Mrs. Bradford's baby daughter—and let's just say that Mrs. Bradford didn't conceive this baby with Mr. Bradford. Scandalous. Horrifyingly, the Bradfords plan on killing the baby to hide their shame, but Anna takes the child with her and treats it as her own.

As we can see, Anna gains a great deal of personal satisfaction delivering newborns. She feels happy to have "celebrated a life" amid "that season of death" (2.7.56). These births represent humanity's ability to survive and even thrive in the face of immense death and destruction, which is an idea that comforts Anna a great deal. Life, as Dr. Ian Malcolm would say, finds a way.

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