The Last Time I Saw Mother

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Study Guide on The Last Time I Saw Mother

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Study Guide on The Last Time I Saw Mother Study Guide on Pages 1-55

Based on the introduction, why is the persona writing the story? The person is writing the story to make amends with her past because there is so much that she didnt understand before. She wants to write the story as a testament to the truth so that she can accept it and so finally move on at last.

As the story begins, where is it set? The story is initially set in Caridads house in Sydney, Australia. Where does the main character have to go? She needed to go back to her hometown in Manila to answer her mothers summon.

So far, how would you describe our main character? What do you think of her as a daughter? As a mother? As a daughter, Caridad remains to be a very obedient and loving one. Despite the one-way communication, she continues to write to her mother just to keep in touch. As a mother, she seems to be very withdrawn. She had thoughts and feelings about certain things in her family and she would just keep it all to herself.

Describe the kind of relationship that Caridad has with her daughter. Caridad and her daughter Marla both love each other. Caridad is very much concerned with her daughters general welfare and is very cautious about what could possibly be her reaction to the inevitable separation of her parents. Marla, on the other hand, is very free to express her own feelings to her mother. In some instances, Marla would seem to be the one who preaches patience and plays mother to her mother.

Who are the people who usually write to Caridad? How are they related to her? The people who usually write to Caridad are Mia and Jessie. Mia is Caridads first cousin and best friend. Caridads constant communication with Mia allows her to be abreast not only with what is going on in her native country but with her very own mother Thelma as well. Jessie, on the other hand, is an old friend from her convent school days in Manila who turned out quite well as a practicing neurologist.

Why was Caridad surprised to receive a letter from her mother? What did the letter say? Caridads mother had never sent her a letter before. Thus, it was a surprise for Caridad to receive something from her mother indicating, Come home, Caridad. I need to speak to you.

What was Caridads first reaction to the letter? At first it was indeed a surprise for Caridad to have received something from her silent mother. Having read the message and the brief summon, she was fearful that her mother is sick. Her initial worry was appeased by Mia. However, what lingered on was Caridads fear that her mother and Mia might have known of her recent separation with her husband Jaime, something that she had kept as a secret from her relatives in Manila.

Why did Caridad and Jaime separate? Were they ever in love? How does she feel about their current state now? There are many things that Caridad does not understand. One of these is the reason why she and Jaime must live separate lives. She cannot pinpoint a very clear reason as the source of her separation with her husband. Because of this, she was hesitant to share her marital concerns with Mia and even her own mother in the Philippines. She traces her relationship with Jaime and recalls that it was his ability to make her laugh which prompted her to give her hand in marriage. Looking at the present situation, Caridad tells that the laughter in their relationship is gone after years of being together.

What does Meg say about the separation? Caridads friend Meg probably grew up from a different cultural or religious background. Her friend believes that separation is something normal and that it is a phenomenon that occurs to most couples nowadays. She also says that as Catholics, people like Caridad have been living in guilt and sadness. She asks Caridad to lighten up and take her as an example of a woman enjoying life after being a veteran of two divorces.

How does Caridad describe Migrants? Why does she say, Ours is a fractured existence? Migrants are people who will never become whole. They move from one place to another in search for greener pastures and there build new homes. Yet as they move to a new home, they leave one behind. And because of this, they will forever be torn by their attachments to both homesold and new. Thus, a fractured existence is what can be described of their lives.

When was the last time Caridad was home? The last time Caridad was home was when she attended her fathers funeral. This was about three years before she went to visit her mother.

What does she remember about her house? She remembers the house in great detail. She remembers how it looks like, how it is built within the village for the old rich. She remembers it for what it once was. Thinking about her house hurls to the memory of her father sitting on his favorite chair, reading a good novel and her mother sitting near the window, gazing outside. The house remains the same, but this time her father is just a living memory.

Describe Caridads current relationship with her mother. Caridad makes up for the distance between herself and her mother by writing letters at least once a month. She writes about important and trivial things, about Marla and her life in Australia. She wanted her mother to be still involved with her life. Her mother never wrote back, and it was always through Mia that messages from her mother are relayed. Her mother appreciates her letters though and is very proud of her achievements. However, her recent separation from Jaime is something that she never told her mother.

What do you think is the purpose of the part in the novel that describes how Caridad always asks questions? Questions necessitate answers. Caridad had so many questions not only because she was inquisitive but also because there are obvious details in her life that are concealed from her. At this point in the novel, the reader joins the narrator (who is also the main character Caridad) in asking questions about these concealed details. In such a case, mystery is heightened and interest is sparked.

When Caridad lands in the airport, what does she remember? The scene at the airport reminded Caridad of the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., a very important political and historical figure. His death led the nation to do a peaceful uprising, which we now know as People Power or the EDSA Revolution.

How is the EDSA Revolution (what we call EDSA I now) described in the novel? It was a fiesta-like gathering of all people from different walks of life clamoring for a singular cause.

Why did Mia think that at one point, they were defeated? The presence of helicopters and military men intimidated them, thinking that they were to be violently silenced. But instead of doing so, the military joined them in their cause.

Why was the pilot unable to fire at the people in EDSA? The pilot believed that God was with the millions of people revolting against the dictatorship. When he was about to fire at them, he saw a vision of a white cross above the crowd, which suddenly dissolved.

Describe the airport. Was Caridad comfortable in it? Caridad felt uncomfortable when she arrived. The airport that was once a sophisticated structure was now showing signs of decay. The heat and the seemingly disorganized scenario made it even worse for Caridad.

What is the difference between life in Sydney and life in Manila? Despite its own misgivings and also because of her own familys affluence, life in Manila for Caridad was a lot easier than in Sydney. In Manila, she can have the comforts of a home full of yayas and maidservants. In Sydney, and probably in any other foreign land, one has to live by the sweat of her brow by living an independent and self-supporting life.

If you were to choose, where would you like to live more? This question is best answered through personal reflection.

Describe Manila traffic, as seen by Caridad. Manila traffic is very complex and chaotic. She describes it vividly: she talks about traffic lights going out, drivers abusing each other, sampaguita vendors knocking on car windows and basically how everything clogs the streets and creates a traffic jam. In her words, Manila traffic is imagined as a series of clogged street arteries.

Why is Manila a city of extremes? Manila is the city of extremes because of the ever-widening gap between its rich and poor citizens, who ironically live side by side in one city.

What are the different races present in the Philippines? Describe each. People with Spanish blood were usually the ones who were very privileged. For a very long time, the Spaniards ruled this nation and dictated most of the lifestyle, customs and religious traditions of the country. The Chinese came as a lower class people but emerged and created a niche by being excellent businessmen. They gained social acceptance by marrying locals. The Americans were best known for their educational system and their prestigious, first-world way of living. These foreigners were usually the ones with great power and resources than the native Filipino in his own land. There were also the mestizos, or people born out of mixed races.

Why have Filipinos become indifferent to oppression? According to Jaime, Filipinos have become indifferent to oppression because they have been numbed already by the experience of about four hundred years of colonial rule. It is really ironic that Filipinos have only realized the need to shake off oppression after being immersed with twenty years of a homemade dictatorship.

Describe the house of Caridad. Describe her room. The house has always been the same, as she remembered it. It is as if the pieces of furniture have been left untouched. It is an old house, elegant and sophisticated in its own time.

Describe Thelma, Caridads mother. What is the first thing that she says to Caridad? Thelma used to be a vibrant woman, strong-willed in terms of character. In this part of the story she is seen as an old lady, aged in wisdom and memory. She welcomes Caridad by asking her to come nearer and responds to her daughters call by saying, No, Caridad, Im not your mama.

Whose point of view is used in the next chapter? The nest chapter uses the point of view of Thelma, Caridads mother.

Who did Thelma call? Why? Thelma called Emma, her sister. She also called Ligaya, Emmas daughter. She called to tell them it is now the time to tell the truth.

Why did Raoul want to tell Caridad the secret they have hidden from her all this time? Raoul knows and respects Caridads right to know the truth behind her past because it is about her and that it belongs to her.

How did Caridads parents feel about her migrating to Australia? Caridads parents first felt uneasy about the idea of migrating to Australia, but Caridad felt that Australia will give a better means of living and will benefit Marlas welfare.

Describe the house that Caridad bought then and now. The house that Caridad bought was initially almost falling apart. This disappointed Raoul when he saw the pictures of the dilapidated house. But as years pass and as photographs begin to accumulate, the house finally became a beautiful and lovely home.

How did Raoul die? Raoul died of stroke one peaceful morning while reading the papers.

What does Thelma discover about getting old and being alone? Being old and alone lets one realize that we used to live a life of unnecessary fear. Age brings about the courage to confront the things we used to be scared of. In the case of Thelma, she was very much afraid of the past and its secrets. As an old woman nearing the end of her life, she realizes the need to set things straight and to finally tell the truth.

Why did Thelma finally decide to tell the secret they have kept from her? Thelma finally had the courage to tell the secret after the death of Raoul, which was foreshadowed by the broken bowl. The memory of Raoul lingered and she would not to bring the secret to the grave when she finally dies.

If you were Caridad, how would you feel upon discovering this? If you were Thelma, would you choose to tell Caridad? If yes, would it be at this time or on a different occasion? These questions are best answered through personal reflection.

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