After Cordelia, Mrs. Smeath receives the brunt of Elaine’s rage because she condones the bullying of Elaine. Elaine never forgives Mrs. Smeath for this casual cruelty, and accordingly, the role Mrs. Smeath takes in Elaine’s art looms much larger than the times Mrs. Smeath actually appears in the novel. In Eye for an Eye, Mrs. Smeath wears Miss Lumley’s bloomers, demonstrating that Elaine has changed Mrs. Smeath into a symbol for all the harsh, disciplinarian women of the suburbs. When Elaine reexamines the Mrs. Smeath paintings at her retrospective, Elaine finally sees Mrs. Smeath’s humanity, acknowledging that her strict, religious, and likely rural upbringing made Mrs. Smeath who she was. Elaine thus unlocks the riddle of Mrs. Smeath’s “bad heart.” In effect, Mrs. Smeath lacks the ability to express love and care for others. Considering her bad heart, Mrs. Smeath had actually tried to care for Elaine in the best and only way she knew how, by trying to bring her into the fold of Christianity. In recognizing Mrs. Smeath’s limitations, Elaine lets go of her rage.

PLUS

Notes See All Notes
Add your thoughts right here!