Monday, March 19, 2007

Why was Sarah Christian so Mad?

Throughout Sarah Christian's life, she seemed to get more and more timid of the girls at the school. I have to ask these following questions of Sarah: What made her so upset all the time? Why did she make the girls do unruly things? I find myself answering that Sarah Christian is basically jealous of all these school girls. Sarah did not have a mother growing up, therefore, when her father mentioned her mother, she did not want those conversations to end. Secondly, she always let the reader know what was on her mind about Lydia. Lydia seemed to be her personal "idol" that she never was. Last but not least, she always loved to hear stories from the girls at the school and what was going on in their lives.

Unlike the young school girls, Sarah didn't have a mother figure growing up. It seems to me that Sarah always wanted to talk about her mother and when people brought her up in conversations, she was enthralled. Her father never mentioned her mother but that one time with Everett, he did: "It isn't so much the length of the journey, but the dramatic change from cool temperatures to this heat-and from the dryness to tropical humidity. When Sarah's mother first arrived-when was it?" (McMillen 85). Her father told Everett that the temperature of Hawaii made travelers more tired than the length of the flight. That is how he remembered his wife, Sarah's mother, coming to Hawaii to be his wife. After mentioning her mother just once, Sarah wished that her father would talk to Everett more about her. Why did she freak out with just one remembrance of her mother? For this reason, she could look up to the young school girls as being her mother. Sarah longed for that relationship of mother and daughter, so she found it by communicating through the girls. She was jealous that they had mothers and she didn't.

The dominant figure in Sarah's life that she looked up to was Lydia. Lydia was the one that had the boys following after her, Lydia was the one that all the school girls loved, and Lydia was the one that Sarah wanted to beat down. She mentioned the relationship between Lydia and Charlie: "This was not Lydia's mother's way. I knew Julia Kaluhi would not have approved of her daughter cavorting with a boy like Charles. I doubted that he could write his own name" (McMillen 90). For one, Sarah was jealous that Lydia had a boyfriend she was keeping in secret, while she was also jealous that her mother would care about their affair. Even though Sarah made these girls do horrible things, this is what the girls thought of her: "No matter which way I turned, it seemed like being a girl was bad news. Everybody kept telling me what to do. Don't run. Don't talk. Sit quietly. Bleed for the next forty years, but pretend I don't bleed. Pretend I don't bleed, but prove that I bled. Make babies, but pretend I didn't do it. Do it, but pretend I didn't like it. Push a baby's head out of my privates, but pretend a stork dropped her on the porch" (McMillen 95). Only Sarah herself knew why she treated these girls the way she did, jealously.

In conclusion, Sarah was "mad" solely because she was jealous of these girls. She loved to hear the stories that the girls shared with her at school because she did not have communication like that with her mother growing up. Talking to girls was something that Sarah Christian might have not done when she was young herself. These girls were her escape from her past life. The past kept creeping up on her, so she kept those relationships with the girls because that was the only thing that made her feel better about herself.


Sugar said...

I agree that Sarah is probably jealous of her students. Whereas she feels that she is only attractive to her husband. Even then, however, her husband becomes so absorbed in his work that he forgets to be attracted to her, instead treating her like a very devoted member of his congregation. To top it all off, Sarah sees poor girls like Lydie attracting more men that herself, including both Haole and Hawaiian. Not to mention, homely little Patience is depicted as more attractive than Sarah. Natually, Sarah is going to be jealous. Additionally, Sarah does not thorooughly understand the Hawaiian people. Although she has lived in Hawaii for most of her life, she still cannot live like a Hawaiian, let alone think like a Hawaiian.

Mari said...

Amanda I agree with you. I understand how much of Sarah's actions can be interpreted as jealousy which may be rooted in the lack of relationships with women she seems to have had growing up. It also reflects her inability to have close relationships in her life at all. But I actually think that Sarah's actions are more of a reflection of her inability to understand the Hawaiian culture. When the missionaries came to Hawaii they truly believed that the Hawaiian's were savages. They had done human sacrifices and many of them were marrying within their families. Sarah's treatment towards her girls at the school reflect the fact that in Sarah's mind they could never be as good as her, because despite everything Sarah didn't have, she did have her religion. McMillen is trying to illustrate to us as readers the way in which the Hawaiian people were misunderstood at this time.