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3. The times that I loved Mariah it was because she reminded me of my mother. The times that I did not love Mariah it was because she reminded me of my mother.

These words appear in “The Tongue,” as Lucy observes Mariah standing among enormous flowers in the Great Lakes house. It illustrates the close link, in Lucy’s mind, between Mariah and her mother, and it also depicts Lucy’s ambivalence about both women. Here, Lucy judges Mariah’s behavior as a reflection of her mother’s, for her love for Mariah depends on whether Mariah mimics her mother’s good or bad traits, rather than on how Mariah performs on her own terms. The use of the plural, times, conveys that Lucy habitually identifies Mariah with her mother and possesses no feelings for Mariah outside the realm of that identification. Furthermore, rather than speaking of love as unconditional, Lucy reveals how frequently her love comes and goes, which demonstrates the wavering nature of her affections for both women. Though in other passages Lucy emphasizes ways in which Mariah and her mother differ, for much of the novel, Mariah serves as a mother figure to Lucy, through whom Lucy continues to play out the fierce, unresolved emotions she has for her real mother.