In this essay, I examine the role of material culture in Marilynne Robinson's novel Housekeeping (1980) to understand how the prominent presence of material culture introduces complex questions about the relationships among objects, reality, and the self. By recognizing objects' fluidity of meaning, Housekeeping offers its characters a way to see their individuality and conceptions of reality in a similar state of flux. Significantly, it is in the act of recognizing that the socially accepted uses of objects are not necessarily "natural" parts of existence, and, like elements of the natural world, the meanings and uses of these items are susceptible to change and decay that an individual is able to recognize that the self is similarly fluid and moldable, which creates room for both imagination and for the possibility of change.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Lowe, Kristin, "Redefining Self in the Midst of "Things": Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping" (2011). All Theses and Dissertations. 2758.
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson, material culture, objects, nature, deconstruction