Not such great expectations

November 7, 2016
Author Barbara Kingsolver - great expectations?

There was a really interesting piece in the Guardian today by the novelist Barbara Kingsolver, on the effect that her father’s very low expectations of her had – she describes her psyche as being ‘maimed’. As she is a hugely successful writer, with fourteen novels in print, you could hardly say that her father held her back. But he did cause her terrible pain.

She was 11, and had asked him if a woman could ever be president of the United States. He said no, with vague references to mental instability and menstruation as the factors which made it utterly impossible. He was a respected doctor.

She realised then that he found her, as a girl about to become a woman, lacking in obscure ways, debarred from true effectiveness. A second class citizen. As her mother, an intelligent and incapable woman, was palpably unhappy as a housewife, this didn’t give the novelist many options. Yet, being resilient, resourceful, intelligent, she found her path. Read her book, the Poisonwood Bible, if you want to see a fine example of a dish served cold.

We are all lucky that we are not living in this world any more. We are living, instead, in a world where a highly qualified, competent woman, who has kept a cool head under torrents of abuse, is poised to lose the presidency to a self-confessed groper, a bankrupt, a liar and a bully. So much has changed – yet so much remains the same. It’s hard to have great expectations for tomorrow. But things can change. If you have a vote, use it.


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  • Lynda November 11, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I thought it was an good article too. I found it interesting that her father has moved forward in his views but most of his peers haven’t. Why, I wonder? I was in the US in August and September on holidays. We spent most of our time in National Parks which were amazing but we also saw some dreadful poverty driving between them. How anyone would think that a person like Donald Trump could ( or indeed would want to do) anything to alleviate that poverty is beyond me – and don’t get me started on his views on women, Muslims, Mexicans etc. It might tempt me to get personal and denigrate people who have bouffant comb overs and paint their skin orange.

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 15, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Yes, it was interesting that her father had mellowed – maybe it’s a terrible generalisation but most of us seem to get more extreme in our views as we age … I agree, it’s bizarre that Trump has been able to gain some sort of ‘man of the people’ credibility where in fact he inherited his wealth and has never showed any signs of wanting to share it around … maybe it’s just his lack of any kind of polish that makes people think he’s one of them … more fool them as they will see, I fear!