Where'd You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Character Analysis

Bernadette Fox:Bernadette is mostly the main character and is very interesting. She doesn't really like people and seems like a bad person.She is picky and nasty."See, that's why I call the mothers 'gnats'. Because they're annoying."Bernadette thinks the mothers from her daughters school are annoying and obsolete. Bernadette seems sociopathic and struggles putting herself in another's perspective. She is very judgmental and close-minded. The book also reveals She takes numerous medications when she goes to the doctor and doesn't sleep.


Bee Branch:Bernadette's daughter, she narrates it when there is no letters and she could be considered the main character. She doesn't see her mothers wrongs to significantly, she sees her as mom. Bee is 15 and very intelligent. She's compassionate and a well rounded person."Oh, man, they must have been crying so hard?" Bee is talking about the beatles in their farewell performance and she is very understanding and intrigued, her school says she loves to learn.


Elgie:He is Bee's father, an executive at microsoft. Elgie does not write many letters and the readers don't get to know him. He seems decent but works a lot and he doesn't have a good marriage.


Manjula Kapoor:This is Bernadette's "virtual assistant" in India.This was an early signs of Bernadette's craziness and stupidity. It turns out he doesn't exist and is a cover for identity theft.


Audrey:Bernadette's neighbor and a 'gnat' because she has a child in the same school. Her and Bernadette don't really like each other.


Soo-Lin Lee-Segal: Elgin's assistant that he impregnated, and also his neighbor's, Audrey, good friend

Plot

The novel is letters, e-mails, faxs, and other memos between correspondence leading up to the escape of Bernadette before her intended intervention. First though, Bee is graduating eighth grade and received perfect grades, and her dad promised she could go on a vacation if this happened. She chooses a cruise to Antarctica and Bernadette, her mother is afraid to leave.Bernadette is crazy, she runs over a parents foot by accident but she doesn't think she did it. She is angry at Audrey, the mom, and has a dislike for her. Audrey is also friends with Elgin's assistant who he's having an affair with, but not stated that she knows. Then the FBI contact Elgin about the virtual assistant that Bernadette hired not being real and a cover up for an identity theft. This shows her stupidity because she gives him all their info and even social security numbers. Elgin plans to tell her at the intervention to put her in a mental facility. Bernadette ends up running away and vanishing to everybody. Bee investigates and rummages her emails and documents to seek where she went, and its Antarctica their vacation destination. So they track her down in South America but manages to escape again and doesn't come back with Elgin and Bee. Then Bee struggles situating in boarding school, so Elgin decides to bring her to Antarctica for peace about her mother but Bee decides to track her down. Shockingly she does and they manage to make the compromises to live happy as a family.


The story could be confusing with the epistolary format and changing perspectives. It was good and commentates on a lot of the family life in America. It shows the quiet unconnectedness of some families today.

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Symbols

A major symbol, I think, is the Galer Street School, they are all about connectedness, honesty, and well roundedness, but the families don't seem connected and happy. They only have 2 families to compare but its ironic.


Another symbol I noticed was the title in comparison to everything that happened. First is that Bernadette might've actually lost herself with the marriage or Bee and is trying to find herself asking "Where'd you go Bernadette?". Also is that Bee slowly starts to see the true Bernadette as the story progresses and thinks "Where'd you go Mom?"