Where'd You Go Bernadette
Maria Semple
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
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Chapter 7
Summary

Bee continues to blame her father for Bernadette’s disappearance and begins to make him feel increasingly guiltier about it, eventually convincing him to take her to Antarctica — as she believes this is where Bernadette would be. She tells Elgin that she is simply seeking closure, but secretly she believes that her mother is still alive and living there. They arrive in Antarctica, but are frustrated in their attempts. Just before the pair are about to give up hope, Bee hears word of Palmer Station. It is an American base where scientists work and conduct research. Bee and her father steal a boat and make their way to the base. Upon their arrival they are shocked to find Bernadette, alive and well. Bernadette is also shocked by the revelation that her family had presumed her to be dead, saying that she had sent a letter to Bee, explaining everything. Bee and Elgin then return home, leaving Bernadette to complete her new architectural project, after which she will return to Seattle.

When Bee returns to Galer Street, her old school, she finds the missing letter that Bernadette had sent. In the letter, Bernadette had explained to them why she had decided to go to Antarctica. Her aim was to reconcile with both her daughter and husband, planning to embark on the cruise that the family had booked. Prior to the cruise to Antarctica, she met a scientist who told her about an architectural project at Palmer Station. The interesting thing was that all the materials needed for the project had to be shipped in from the United States and, as such, they needed an architect of extraordinary talent. Intellectually and creatively inspired, Bernadette snuck into Palmer Station in the hopes of working on the project, writing that she would return home right away if her attempts were unsuccessful.

Analysis

The chapter shows the high level of resilience that Bee has. Since she could no longer stay in Connecticut, she moved back to Seattle and continued with her studies at Galer Street. Despite being fully interested in searching for her mother, she is still aware of the important role that graduating from school would have on her life. She was not willing to compromise on the ability to get a good education. The chapter also shows the positive outcomes that occur through passion. Bee’s zeal lead to their discovering of Bernadette, being alive and well, and intellectually content once again and optimistic about the future.

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