Emma by Carolyn Cole
In Emma by Carolyn Cole we have the theme of connection, independence, innocence, infidelity, desire, respect and change. Narrated in the first person by a young girl called Dory the reader realises after reading the story that Cole may be exploring the world of connection. Though Dory is still young she prefers the world of the adults around her. This may be important as the reality is that Dory does not fully understand the interactions of the adults in her life. Particularly Emma’s relationship with Mrs Robinson. Mrs Robinson is fond of giving Emma advice but it seems to be a case that Emma would much prefer to live her life independent of Mrs Robinson’s opinions. It is also interesting that both Dory and Maria look up to Emma. She for them is everything that a woman should represent. It is also possible that due to Dory’s young age Emma may be Dory’s first role model and as such is going to have a deeper impact on her. There is also a sense that Emma wants to raise Dory in the correct manner and as such insists on Dory calling her mother or Mommy. Though this may sound minor the benefit of it is that it instills respect between Dory and Emma. First and foremost Emma is Dora’s mother and then her friend. There has to be one adult in the relationship.
There is also a sense that the narrator wants to grow up as quick as she can and she hopes to be just like Emma. This could be important as it highlights to the reader the fondness, connection and respect that Dory has for Emma. However things unfortunately do not work out as planned for Dory when Emma is knocking down and killed in a car accident. The accident being triggered by Dory’s father’s infidelity with another woman. If anything Dory’s life changes dramatically and it appears to be a case that her father after Emma’s death pursues a relationship with Mrs Robinson (Maria’s mother). This could be important as Mrs Robinson is unlike Emma and any sense of balance that Dory had in her life may now be being disregarded due to her father’s romantic involvement towards Mrs Robinson. There is no longer any one to fight Dory’s corner for her or to keep her on the straight and narrow. The family unit that she was so used to be a part of has been reshaped and possibly not for the better.
The reader is aware that Mrs Robinson had her eyes on Dory’s father and it looks like she didn’t waste too much time in starting a relationship with him. Any feelings of remorse for Emma are no longer relevant. Mrs Robinson has gotten what she wants. Similarly by sending both Dory and Maria to boarding school Mrs Robinson is able to spend more free time with Dory’s father. The fact that the events of the story are also filtered through the eyes of a child, Dory. Could also be significant as the reader is aware that Dory is innocent and may not necessarily understand what is happening or why her life is changing so much. She knows that Emma is dead but the arrival of Mrs Robinson in her father’s life and then them kissing can only but lead to the confusion that Dory is feeling. Similarly Dory is so young that she treats everything as though it is a game. Even when the consequences are so severe. Though some critics might suggest that Mrs Robinson is doing the right thing by helping Dory’s father. The reality is that she is doing so to satisfy and please herself.
Something that is clearer to the reader by the fact that it is Mrs Robinson’s idea to send both Dory and Maria to the boarding school. They will no longer be in her way and she can spend as much time as she wants with Dory’s father. If anything the reader feels empathy for Dory. She has lost her mother who kept her on the a straight and narrow and she has inherited a step mother in Mrs Robinson whose primary goal is not Dory’s welfare but rather enjoying her relationship with Dory’s father. For Mrs Robinson what is happening is a game. A game that Dory is a pawn in and may not necessarily wish to play. Due to Emma’s death Dory’s life has changed forever. She will not get the same connection she had with Emma with another human being. They may have argued with one another but they were always there for each other. Even if Dory forgot to call Emma Mommy on occasion. In reality just as Maria is Emma’s friend so too was Emma. With her loss comes the introduction of a woman (Mrs Robinson) who appears to know how to put herself first and ensure that Dory’s father focuses on her and not on Dory.