The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
"Life -- A Little Strip of Time"
For Mother's Day, I thought I would write about one of the most steadfast mothers in modern British fiction, Mrs. Ramsay from Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf had no children, but Mrs. Ramsay has eight; and Woolf intuitively fills Mrs. Ramsay's head and the first half of the novel with touching motherly insights.
Mrs. Ramsay is intuitive and creative, exhibiting love and care and motherly concern. She is filled with anxiety on her children's behalf, but also with pride. Fearing that the children are about to erupt in laughter over some private joke at dinner, she says to them -- by way of maintaining order and altering the dinner table dynamic: " 'Light the candles' " (145). Standing down the length of the table and illuminating an elaborate centerpiece designed by Rose, the tall candles number eight, just as Mrs. Ramsay's children do.