Souvenir Essay

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Mesher is a professor of English and American Studies at San Jose State University. In the following essay, he discusses Jayne Anne Phillips use of characterization in "Souvenir."

"Souvenir," the one-word title of Jayne Anne Phillips' story about Kate, a woman who comes to terms with herself and her mother when the latter is diagnosed with terminal cancer, means "to remember" in French. A souvenir is a keepsake, a memento, something to serve as a reminder. Near the beginning of the story, Kate recalls a visit with her mother the previous summer, when "they bought each other pewter candle holders. 'A souvenir,' her mother said. 'A reminder to always be nice to yourself."' But the visit begins much less pleasantly: Kate feels frustrated and betrayed by her mother's criticisms of her, while the mother predicts that Kate "may feel different later on," once the mother...

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This section contains 1,859 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Souvenir Study Guide
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