“If you were to break, for example, your hip, there would be the pain, the proof,telling you all the time it was true: that’s then and this is now. But this thing–each second it had to be true all over again; she was getting hurled against each second. Now. And now again-thwack! Maybe one of these seconds she’d smash right through and find herself in the clear place where her mother was alive, scowling, criticizing…” (262)
— Deborah Eisenberg’s “The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor”
This passage in Deborah Eisenberg’s The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor stood out to me because it not only showcased the bewilderment and sense of loss felt by Francie, who is introduced as a sloppy and rebellious teenage girl, but the universal brevity and frailness of humanity. Eisenberg phrases Francie’s thoughts in a disjointed, spastic way to indicate the initial disbelief she felt when she was told of her mother’s death. Her mother was only in the hospital because she broke her hip, and it is very unusual for people to die of broken bones. Francie’s emotional state as she reflects on how she spent her time, while her mother was either dead or dying, is one of regret and shame. Francie sees everything she did over the course of that time as frivolous and wasted and she also sees how incredibly unpredictable life is. She realizes that her mother only wanted the best opportunities for her and all of her mother’s nagging and criticizing were her attempts at making Francie successful. In fact, Francie would gladly listen to her mother’s chastisement if it meant being with her. By adding this climactic moment of turmoil, Eisenberg dissolves Francie’s spoiled, rebellious teen persona into that of an orphan who took her mother for granted. Francie is a widely universal character because she does things that we all have done at some point or another in our lives. We feel connected to her because she does things like leave her dirty socks on the floor of her room, wear slightly scandalous outfits, and ignore her mother’s criticism. When her mother dies, Francie is forced to come to terms with the reality that she is alone. She has no one that will make sure she is doing the right thing and she matures and sees the faults in her previous behavior. I can relate to Francie’s feelings when her mother dies because no one really prepares us for the heartbreak that accompanies death. When your friends, family and pets die, you are stuck in a haze of denial because you can so easily dredge up memories of them. It seems so unreal that you will never see them on earth again and you are stuck with a long stretch of loneliness, a hole where that person was.