Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Maria Semple

Character Analysis

Bee Branch, the protagonist in the book, "Where'd You Go Bernadette" by Maria Semple, can be characerized as a determined and ingenious child that seems to loose her way as more problems occur in her family. Further more, Bee is a gifted child. For example, "Bee is a pure delight. Her love of learning is infectious, as are her kindness and humor" (7, Semple). Moreover, Bee is a standout in the class room that always assists the students in need. Bee can also be characterized as a very religous person. For example, "I ignored her and threw my head back. Maybe that's what religion is, hurling yourslef off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place" (199, Semple). This is ironic because just as Bee realizes this, everything in her life will change from normal to insanity. Bee's recognition of her belief in the Lord may help her and guide her through this confusing and difficult time in her life. However, as time progresses, Bee's world seems to flip upside down. For example, "Yet from Bee's first week ,I received reports that she was failing to thrive in the boarding school environment. Teachers said Bee sat in the back and never took notes." (223, Semple). To elaborate, Bee has completely switched gears since her mother, Bernadette, has gone insane and missing. This causes Bee to be distracted and to not focus in school, so her father, Elgie, withdraws her from Choate. In conclusion, the protagonist, Bee Brach, serves as a resolute girl who trys to figure out life as her world turns upside down.


In the book, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple, characterization and setting are used to show that as time progresses, Bernadette continutes to become more ill and have less self control.

In the beginning of the book, Bernadette's characterization seems to be normal and under control. For example, "That night at dinner, I sat through Mom and Dad's 'We're-so-proud-of-you' and 'She's-a-smart-one' until there was a lull" (8, Semple). This represents how life is cliche and there are minimal problems. However, as time evolves, things start to go down-hill and Bernadette starts to change. To elaborate, Bernadette went to the local pharmacy to pick up motion sickness and anxiety medications, but she fell asleep in the store! This is an example of how Bernadette's life and mind is changing, and how she is becoming ill.

Setting also has a big role as to why Bernadette becomes mentally sick. Most of the book takes place in Seattle, but there is an emphasis on how the family will be taking a cruise to Antartica. This serves as the catalyst for Bernadette's sickness. Moreover, as the cruise gets closer, Bernadette becomes more ill.

In conclusion, characterization and setting show hoe Bernadette's life changes throughout the book, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple.


I recommend the book, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple to all of my fellow students. This book serves as an imaginative adventure with many ups and downs on the emotional rollercoaster we call life. At times, you'll be cracking up at Semple's comical jokes, but then can be expressing sympathy as the characters go through tough times as there world flips upside down. I praise this book, and recommend it to everyone, it was a very enjoyable read.