In the novel of The Beet Queen, the main theme that Louise Erdrich presents is family. As the novel begins, the main focus is on Mary and Karl Adare, siblings who are abandoned by their mother Adelaide. They both want to be part of a family because their mom leaves them alone. After her mother’s departure, Mary goes to Argus to live with her aunt and leaves Karl behind. Karl then becomes a transient and meets many new people in his life. He always ends up leaving everybody he meets throughout the novel. He also declares his love to both men and women, regardless of how long he has knows them. Karl will become attached to anyone who shows him love. Then there is Celestine and Russell who do not have anyone else but themselves. In the novel, there is Sita who leaves her family to follow her dreams. However, she is looking for love which does not work out for her. She tries to find someone to be with, but she ends up being alone. In this novel, Erdrich describes the lives of the Adare family and how they untimely end up lonely. Each character tries to find somewhere they feel comfortable to live but setting down and creating lasting bands proves to be problematic for many of them.
In the novel, Mary is one of the main characters who is looking for a family. Once her mother leaves her with her baby brother, she intends to take care of him. There is a man in the train who offers Mary to give him the baby. Mary at first did not want too but then ends up giving him the baby. Mary says, “He grabbed my arm so fervently that the baby slipped, and then the young man caught me, as if to help, but instead he scooped the baby to himself” (Erdrich 14). The guy from the train takes the baby and did not come back. Mary makes this decision because the baby did not stop crying. Mary then finds her aunt’s meat shop and she tells her everything that happened. She ends up staying there expecting to find the family she wants. Mary is thankful for her aunt for letting her stay with them. Mary says, “I had tried to give them what I thought was my treasure-the blue velvet box that held Mama’s jewels” (Erdrich 20). Her uncle and aunt did not want Mary to pay them, but Mary wants to at least be thankful by giving her mother jewels. She opens the box and finds few thick metal buttons off a coat, stickpins, a ticket describing a ring, and a necklace set with garnets. Sita says, “I bet it’s empty” (Erdrich 20). Sita from the beginning knows there will not be anything value inside the box. She is taking a fifty percent of being wrong or being right. But she has the feeling their will not be any valued inside the box.
Furthermore, Mary wants to give something to her aunt Fritzie and uncle Pete for being so kind and giving her a place to stay. They treat Mary like she is part of the family and that’s what Mary wants. She wants to be part of a family since her mom left her and she does not know anything about her other two brothers. However, her relationship with Sita is not what Mary expected. Mary just wants to have a family, but Sita does not want Mary in her life. Mary finally finds the family she dreams of, but at the same times she is taking over Sita’s territory. Sita hates sharing her room and belongings with her cousin. She does not want Mary to be part of her family or her life. However, Mary gets herself comfortable and her aunt puts her in the same school as Sita. However, Mary ends up being in the same grade level as Sita because she passes a test the school makes her take. Just to check in what grade level they should put her in. Mary already is loved by her aunt and uncle, which is something she always wanted. Then she noticed she is more like her aunt Fritzie because they seem to have the same mind set. They both have many things in common. Mary will not mind helping her out with the shop. For Mary, love does not seem to work with her and she does not find anyone.
Continually, when Mary gets older, she ends up being in charge of the meat shop. She hires Celestine so she could help her out. Celestine helps out and Dot(Wallantee) just seem to hang around, but Mary gets attached to Dot. She wants Dot to have all the trust in her. However, Dot takes advantage of Mary because she knows Mary will always believe in her. Conversely, Mary has a brother who turns out to be Dot father, in which Mary does not seem to be have any interest anymore. Celestine and Dot are the only family member that are around Mary her whole life.
Conversely, Karl has his mom’s love and he is the favorite child of Adelaide. After Karl is abandon by his mother and sister. It starts to affect Karl more because he is left alone and has nobody. Anyone who crosses his life, Karl will always end up hurting them. Karl is looking for attention and he just wants to be loved. However, he is not sure what he really wants. Karl will always be everywhere, he could not stay in one place. He does not even know if he wants a family, but deep down he feels lonely. He will go through people to fill him up but does not seem to find any interest in any of them. Karl always leaves them. Throughout the novel, he meets Celestine and ends up having a child with her, which he does not know about until Celestine tells him. Although Celestine kicks him out of her life, Karl still does not want a family. He is not sure what he wants. His whole life consists of traveling around the world and selling merchandise. He could never stay in someone’s life because he always ends up hurting himself and leaving them indeed. Karl does not know the meaning of family because he never had one. For his daughter, he is not really a father because he never been by her side. He does not know anything about her. He tries to get close to his daughter but does not accomplish this. They do not have anything in common.
Indeed, Celestine is described as a tall, strong, and a hardworking woman. Celestine is close friends with Sita and Mary. In the novel, Celestine becomes close to Mary and they end up growing up together. Celestine has a brother named Russell, he is the only family member she has since her parents died. Celestine works hard and does her best to maintain herself. In the middle of the novel, Celestine ends up having a child of Karl, which she does not expect and kicks Karl out of her life. Celestine does not want a family with Karl because he is unreliable. The only family member Celestine has is Russell though he leaves her because he does not like Karl. He did not want Karl to be a part of Celestine’s life. The only person that is by Celestine’s side is Mary.
Moreover, Sita has everything, including a family and beauty. Sita thinks just because she is beautiful, she could get away with anything. The problem with Sita is that she is spoiled and she is not used to sharing whatever is hers. As the novel goes on, Sita decides to leave her family to follow her dreams. She does not care about anything else but herself. She does not care if her family agrees with her or not. Sita is a person that searches for love and her dreams. Sita says, “First my room, then my clothing, then the cow’s diamond. But the worst was yet to come when she stole Celestine” (Erdrich 30). If there is something Sita hates doing it is sharing her clothes and her room. Throughout the novel, Sita feels that she is getting old compares herself with young models. Sita also has bad luck in love. She does not find the right guy until the middle of the novel.
In addition, Dot is a daughter of Celestine and Karl. She is a strong woman and seems to have her family habits. Dot gets spoiled from her aunt Mary and mother Celestine. She is not used to anyone saying no to her and she wants to get everything she desires. Dot grows up without meeting her father until she is around the age fourteen. When Dot and her father meet up, Dot shows no type of interest towards her father. He is not what she expects him to be. In the novel it says, “He felt reckless and desperate, suddenly, with the loss of this unattractive girl” (Erdrich 260). Karl is calling his daughter ugly. Dot is the queen of the beets. She gets on a plane and tries to leave just like her grandmother Adelaide. But she returns back because she starts to think what her mother will feel and all her loved ones.
Lastly, this novel is about family. How every character tries to find a place a to fit in. Once they have the family they have dream of, they get attach. However, there are two main character that do not seem to find their family. There is one character who has a family but decides to separate herself from everyone. Every character tries to find someone to understand them.
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