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On the Beach

  • Study Guide
Characters

Mary Holmes

Characters Mary Holmes

Mary, Peter's wife, is a housewife who finds comfort and pride in creating a beautiful home and taking care of her family. She spends most of the time raising baby Jennifer and thinking of ways to improve their garden. More than any other character, Mary resists accepting that her safe, controllable world is coming to an end. Peter is critical of Mary for "living in a dream world," but we might sympathize with the new mother's refusal to believe her family will die. While others calmly deal with the calamity, Mary sobs and screams against the situation that forces her to consider the prospect of euthanizing her own child. Mary is an archetype of a young mother, and is supposed to be someone to whom we can easily relate. She intentionally disregards the news and newspapers because they are always full of bad news. Mary's insistence on ignoring what is going on in the world is a warning to us: like Mary, we can continue to tune out world events, but like Mary, we might eventually find ourselves in a situation in which such simply become impossible to ignore any longer.