Where'd You Go Bernadette
Maria Semple
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Chapter 6
Summary

The chapter revolves around a vacation trip that Bee and Elgin take together to Santiago, Chile. Bee mentions how wonderful the comfort and experience of flying First Class is, despite being irked at being considered a child at the airport. She is, however, happy that her situation made it easy for them to be given preferential treatment. Bee is happy, being in a new place, even as she remembers that they are on a journey to search for their mother, Bernadette. She loves and hates her father equally. Just prior to Bernadette’s disappearance, Elgin had made motions to commit Bernadette in a mental health facility, something that Bee believes to be the reason as to why her mother ran away from home.

Bee takes her Choate water bottle to the swimming pool and begins to think about her new school. She is full of praise for the institution by detailing that it has “ivy-covered buildings and jewels of modern architecture” (Semple 322). From her words, it is clear that she is happy with her decision to move there from Galer Street. She mentions that her roommate, Sarah Wyatt, did not like her at first, but they would eventually hit it off.  However, by that time, Bee had come to terms with the fact she was on her own at Choate. She tries to think of ways she can have fun without seeking the support of other people, drawing parallels with her mother’s behavior. Bee also states that she would move together with her father to Ushuaia, Argentina before taking a plane back to Seattle.

Analysis

This chapter presents two people who are devastated because of a missing piece in their lives. Bee and her father travel to Chile and Argentina purely for pleasure. It was a moment of relief they needed, so to take their mind off from the fact that Bernadette was missing.  They recognize that she was an important part of their lives and are not willing to jeopardize any activity that might help in finding her. Elgin is even willing to have them travel first class for the greater good. Bee still resents her father’s actions, which might have led to her mother running away. However, she does not allow her anger to cloud the possibility of reuniting with her mother.

Bee’s thoughts regarding Choate also show a person who is keen on finding the best in her life. She enjoys new experiences that she comes to face and indeed welcomes and changes that come her way. She is also interested in making friends at Choate, though realizes that doing so may not be the easiest feat. Therefore, she seeks to retain a solitary life, it reduces her stress level and allows her to concentrate more on her studies, something that leads to her having better control over her emotions.

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