In Mildred Pierce, James Cain creates two women who are very strong characters. Veda and Mildred have extreme differences. Veda is a rude, selfish character who walks all over Mildred. Mildred is always trying to please Veda so she lacks parenting skills to punish Veda for her unacceptable behaviour. Veda and Mildred view life from completely different lenses. Their emotions, morals and interactions with others display their differences. Veda has always been a confident character; her confidence makes her feel superior to her family.
Veda shows no emotion in the novel until she starts taking iano lessons from Mr Hannen. When she plays piano a softer side to her personality is portrayed. When Mr Hannen is unpleasantly honest with Veda, she cannot handle it. Mildred describes Veda’s breakdown as “an awakening had taken place in Veda, that it wasn’t in the least phoney’ (160-161). While this is an important part in Veda’s life, her personality does not change too much as the novel progresses. Veda’s priority in life has always been money and this stays constant throughout the whole book. Veda looks down on her mom when she finds out she is a waitress.
Only hen Mildred owns her own restaurant and earning a lot of money that she finally gets her daughters love. Veda is very happy that her mom has money, but not happy for her mom. Mildred’s success brings them into a higher class. Veda starts to hang around other high-class teens. Veda’s attitude worsens and she becomes very spoiled and bratty. Throughout the novel, Veda’s attitude does not change. Eventually, she leaves Mildred to move to New York for fortune and fame, and to be with Monty. This proves she has never had cared about Mildred’s feelings for her.
On the other hand, Mildred is a very determined and strong woman. Her top value is her family. All of her work and time is put into pleasing and caring for Ray and Veda. Contradicting Veda’s selfishness, Mildred would be characterized as selfless. She constantly forgives the disrespectful way Veda treats her without any sort of punishment. Mildred’s personality is persistent throughout the whole book; she is strong, determined and selfless. The only case where she would not be characterized as that is when she falls into Veda’s traps. Finally, at the end of the novel, we see a change in Mildred’s emotions.
She is completely able to let goof all f the pain that Veda discomforted Mildred with. Bert helps Mildred with this transition with the line, “to hell with her” (298). Mildred’s selflessness is also present in her relationship with Monty. When Mildred first met him, he was wealthy and successful. It did not take long for the roles to switch. Mildred soon became the successful money-maker in the relationship. She would always slip him a twenty when she saw him. She soon fgures out that she is being taken advantage of and cannot hand her hard earned money out to Monty, which leads her to the decision to end the relationship.
As stated on page 184, “the hand that holds the money cracks the whip”. Veda’s only priority is money. Every choice she makes is dependent on her plan to be rich and successful. Veda approves of Monty before even meeting him. She is aware that Monty is notorious for being wealthy, so she wants to be a part of the career takes off she no longer cares about Mildred. She even makes fun of Mildred for working often and not making enough money. Ever since the beginning of the novel, Veda has strived for success and to become part a higher class. She accomplishes her goals by the end of the book.
Although Mildred is a strong woman, Veda is Mildred’s weakness. She does not stand up for herself and is repetitively giving in to the pressure Veda puts on her. Mildred is aware of Veda’s goal to become rich and successful so she does anything she can to help Veda achieve this goal. Once Mildred starts making a decent amount of money, she spends it on material items to spoil Veda. Because she is always trying to please Veda and get her to love and respect her, Mildred cannot stay upset with Veda. She describes it as “almost automatic with her now to acquit Veda of rongdoing, no matter how flagrant the offence” (184).
This shows the control Veda has over Mildred. Veda is relentlessly disrespecting Mildred. Mildred forgives Veda almost instantly. She is always trying to please Veda and get her to like and respect her. Mildred cannot stay upset with Veda. She describes it as “almost automatic with her now to acquit Veda of wrongdoing, no matter how flagrant the offence” (184). Veda Judges others merely on how wealthy they are. It is her life goal to become rich and famous. She does not waste her time with people who do not belong in the higher class.
Veda does not care about the emotions of others, especially Mildred’s – she Just wants to become wealthy. She is completely aware that Mildred does not have any power over her and she knows that she will not be punished for disobedience to her mother. Her determination to become rich is extraordinary. She does not let anything slow her down. Besides when she breaks down when Mr Hannen is brutally honest about her career as a musician. Later on, Veda realizes that the harshness of Mr Hannen helped her further her musical career. Veda is very narrow-minded.
She does not understand those who have different views on life. Specifically with Mildred; Veda cannot wrap her mind around the fact that Mildred is content with being in the middle class. Veda’s beliefs are consistent throughout the novel; they even grow stronger. Her cruel personality is shown through her relationship with Monty. She uses Mildred to get closer to Monty. Mildred’s feelings for Monty do not affect Veda’s decisions; she is not fazed. At the end of the novel, she runs off with Monty. This proves the cruelness of both Veda and Monty. She says, “with this money I can get away from you.
From you and the chickens and your pies nd your kitchens and everything that smells of grease… and women that wear uniforms and men that wear overalls” (200). Mildred has strong beliefs about creating positive and happy lives for herself and others. She is always working to make others happy. However, she gets self- conscious when she is with Veda. She is permanently seeking acceptance from Veda. Veda never comes to accept Mildred and treats very unkindly. This lowers Mildred’s self respect because she believes that she is failing at the Job she tries her hardest at.
She wants Veda to have a great life and she will do everything she can to create his. Mildred genuinely cares and gives Veda the life she chooses until the end of the novel. Bert comforts Mildred at this time and tells her that Veda is not worth time and worry. Mildred went through many hardships in her life. But, they were all life. Mildred devoted all of her time, energy, and money on pleasing Veda. With Veda’s disrespect, Mildred’s life was slowly worsening. She could not find a way to capture Veda’s love. It came down to Veda legitimately leaving Mildred in order for her to understand that Veda is not worth her time.
Mildred was getting absolutely othing in return from Veda for every thing she did. In conclusion, Mildred and Veda portray many different characteristics. Mildred is selfless and loving, while Veda is selfish. However, through all of their differences, they have the same life goal”to achieve Veda’s goal of becoming rich and famous. They do not work together to reach this goal, but separately the goal is met. Mildred puts all of her time into giving Veda everything she wants and needs. Veda helps herself and works on her personal musical career. Conclusively, their emotions, morals and interactions with others
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