Betty recounts the life and times of her mother, who wasn’t entirely educated, but was more educated than most in the area. Her mother always knew how to get her way with her father, but she also knew that her father didn’t really love any of them. He was more concerned with money and worries than he was about providing any type of emotional welfare to his wife and daughter.
Betty’s mother didn’t do a lot of cooking. Polly, the cook, but also the town midwife, did most of the cooking in the house and Betty’s mother passed it off as her own. Betty’s father was never observant enough to notice that lunch was also dinner.
As small southern towns go, Betty’s is full of everybody being up in each other’s business and strange happenings that get around town fast. Betty’s mother often visits people and knows where everyone keeps everything in their homes. She doesn’t like to stay at home. There is nothing much to do there. A new neighbor moves in, who is in her late twenties and already has five children. The new woman smokes and hikes her leg up really high on the dresser to shave. Betty thinks she is just about the greatest thing ever. When her husband leaves her when she’s pregnant with twins, Betty and her mother pitch in to help her the best they can.
Time goes by and Betty grows up. She wants to travel a bit so she goes to a bigger city in Virginia. It’s not the time she expected and her first chance at love doesn’t turn out as she expects either. She goes home to her little town, finding a man who has grown up; he’s not entirely a catch; he can’t even spell military, but he’ll do. Betty marries and soon begins her life as an adult woman in the very town she tried to get away from.
What I liked
This story is personal in a way. It really pokes inside the lives of Betty and her mother, or rather, maybe it’s intimate. It’s a short story, but we follow Betty through a large part of her life. We see her grow up. We see her learn to become a woman of the South. She busts her bust and tries to be friendly, but she’s also a little wild.
What I didn’t like
I kind of feel bad for Betty. She ends up in the same darn small town she started out in. She lives with the same people she started out living with. Her life doesn’t have a lot of potential. She then gets married and starts a family, seemingly on a whim. Betty didn’t ever really have any high hopes for her life in the first place, so I can’t feel too bad for her. She never aspired to be an actress or a writer or an opera singer, take your pick; she aspired to see a little more of the world, which she did, and find a man who would treat her well; we don’t know how that one turned out.
To me, there is something sad about staying in one’s hometown one’s entire life. This isn’t the 1700s there is no need to stay in one place your entire life. You can, many people do, but there is more to the world. There are more things to see and more things to do. You don’t have to marry someone you went to high school with. You can travel to Europe or to Asia. You can take up strange hobbies like base jumping.
Honestly, I just don’t understand people who want to stay in the same place and never go anywhere their entire lives. I don’t get it. There are just too many things to see and too many things to do. There are too many hobbies to try. There are too many people to meet. You only get one life, so you might as well make the most of it. Betty is stagnant. I’m sure she becomes a respected member of society in her town, a big fish in a small pond, but that’s about it. Being a big fish in a small pond doesn’t amount to a heck of a lot when there are whale sharks in the ocean. It’s insignificant. You can’t put a mark on the world by being that woman who goes to Bingo every single day and uses the same dried out Bingo marker.
So in the end, the title, A Cure for Dreams, is quite accurate. Betty is cured of all her dreaming and starts out a rather mediocre life.
Do you think that Betty would have respected and admired her mother the same had she left her small town permanently? Why or why not?
What do you think of Betty’s choice to settle in her home town?