Robin Oliveira’s Illustration of Character Development as Portrayed in Her Book, My Name Is Mary Sutter: [Essay Example], 712 words GradesFixer

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Robin Oliveira’s Illustration of Character Development as Portrayed in Her Book, My Name is Mary Sutter

  • Category: Life
  • Topic: About My Name
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 712
  • Published: 03 January 2019
  • Downloads: 32
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Mary Sutter Digest

In Robin Oliveira’s novel My Name is Mary Sutter, the main protagonist evolves from a midwife to a surgeon during the Civil War. As the novel progresses, Mary experiences growth through the tragedy of losing nearly her entire family, the love and admiration she has for Blevens and Stipp, and the horrors of the war in a time where she is often told she “wants too much” and many are determined to see her fail. Yet Mary’s experiences cause her to grow into a humble and mature woman.

Mary is first introduced as a proud, socially awkward, strong, and loving young woman. She is respected as a midwife, but Mary dreams of being a doctor. Her attempts are thwarted in a patriarchal society as many are eager to reject her attempts to become a doctor. Mary is first seen butting heads with Doctor James Blevens, who is the first to tell Mary how she “wants too much”, portraying the patriarchal society Mary doesn’t fit into. However, Blevens and Mary soon form a bond through their passion of wanting to save lives as the war progresses. Mary symbolically becomes Bleven’s hands after his are severely burned. Blevens falls in love with Mary, but Mary doesn’t let go of her grudge of Blevens rejecting her and Blevens soon returns home.

Emotionally, Mary transforms. She is determined to save lives, but comes to realize she must make choices about who can and cannot be saved. At first, she is resistant to choose who to save and who to leave behind. Mary is then told “being a doctor requires her to make choices”, a realization which leaves Mary to nearly abandon her dreams, especially after the death of her sister Jenny. When Mary’s mother Amelia uses Mary as a scapegoat for Jenny’s death, Mary states how Amelia is more than capable of caring for Jenny and how she has a duty to care for the wounded soldiers just as Amelia has a duty to care for her patients as a midwife. Mary also nurses a wounded Thomas, a man she once loved who chooses Jenny over her, and returns to Albany with him so he can meet his baby daughter. While nursing Thomas, Thomas how Mary “wouldn’t have been able to handle domesticity” and Mary realizes she did love Thomas—her love for Thomas being a reason she wouldn’t return home to a pregnant Jenny—but she wasn’t the emotional support Thomas needed, but Jenny was.

While nursing the soldiers, she proves herself to be strong enough to handle the extent of how broken and bloody the men become in the face of war. She assists in amputations to a point where she becomes skilled in amputating legs, gives the wounded soldiers whiskey, dresses their wounds, talks with the young soldiers about their lives, and provides the soldiers with hope during the battles. Though she sees her brother Christian in the young men, Mary composes herself to be a nurse to the men. Mary sees her working conditions—crowded, low in supplies, and filthy—and she soon reflects them. Her clothes become tattered and soaked in blood, she becomes thin, and the war ages her to where at twenty-seven years old and now a surgeon, she has silver in her hair.

Before the Civil War, Mary Sutter is young woman without much real world knowledge outside of being a midwife. When brought into a war, she sees the horrors of young men, some not old enough to be men, being gravely wounded and must pull herself together as she witnesses the destruction of the human body. Upon losing her brother, sister, and father, a more vulnerable side of Mary is revealed. When confronted with the realization of having to choose who can be saved, Mary nearly falls apart. She kisses Blevens’s cheek after he asks if he could kiss her. Mary also kisses Stipp’s cheek before leaving with Thomas, eventually realizing her love for Stipp, how much he needs her, and how much Stipp made her dream of being a surgeon come true as he kisses her hands at the end of the novel. Mary isn’t “ruined” due to her witnessing the blood and destruction in the Civil War. Her experiences make her dream a reality.

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Robin Oliveira’s Illustration of Character Development as Portrayed in Her Book, My Name Is Mary Sutter. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from
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