"The Year We Were Famous"
A Novel Idea: Motherhood
A little later on in the novel when Clara and Helga are going off on their adventure, Helga's mothering abilities come into question. As a mother, how can you leave all of your other seven children and husband behind while you go walking across the country? We question if Helga is doing this for herself to get away from it all, or if she is doing it for her family. We never get a clear answer from Helga because she herself doesn't know the answer to the question and throughout the novel she goes back and forth between the two.
In order to save time on their journey Helga wants to take a "shortcut" over a lava field. Clara thinks this is a bad idea because of the conditions, but Helga has her mind set on it so "filled with misgivings, I followed Ma toward Minidoka."
They argue again when Helga wants to stop in Utah to march in a suffragist parade, and Clara doesn't want to waste time marching in it, because they are behind schedule. But what Helga says goes, so they stayed and marched in the parade.
One of the many responsibilities of a mother is to provide for your children. Many mothers do whatever they can to best provide for their children, and Helga is no exception (other than the three months that she was in bed with "consumption.")
In the second chapter of the novel Helga is up out of bed and feeling better. In fact, she feels so good, that she decides to start spring cleaning, starting with the ceiling. While she is cleaning the ceiling she starts to come up with ideas to save the farm. She finally gets someone to sponsor her idea to walk across the country so that she can save her family from debt.
During their expedition across the country, there were many times that Helga convinced strangers to house and feed the two of them.
The provider theme is very subtle in the novel just like it is in real life.
In today's society, it is very important for mothers to be portrayed as protectors. They feel a strong identity as a mother if they can protect their children.