MARY ESTEVE mong the handful of characters in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping (1980), there is only one who both cares about money and has money to care about: Sylvia Foster, the grandmother of Ruth Stone, the narrator. Early in the narrative, Ruth remembers her grandmother picturing heaven as a place very similar to earth but "without the worry of money" (10). This worldly concern, however, turns out to be slight. We learn that she looked after her orphaned granddaughters without material difficulty; we also learn that she enjoyed contemplating the wealth she accumulated, the pension she received as the widow of a railroad employee, and the modern economy's mechanisms of exchange: Since my grandmother had a little income and owned her house outright, she always took some satisfaction in thinking ahead to the time when her simple private destiny would intersect with the great public processes of law and finance--that is, to the time of her death. All the habits and patterns and properties that had settled around her, the monthly checks from the bank, the house she had lived in since she came to it as a bride, the weedy orchard that surrounded the yard on three sides
Contemporary Literature – University of Wisconsin Press
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