In Olsen’s novella Tell Me a Riddle, the dying grandmother Eva reveals an internal conflict that underlies her inability to hold her new grandchild:

In Olsen’s novella Tell Me a Riddle, the dying grandmother Eva reveals an internal conflict that underlies her inability to hold her new grandchild:
It was not that she had not loved her babies, her children. The love—the passion of tending—had risen with the need like a torrent; and like a torrent drowned and immolated all else. But when the need was done—oh the power that was lost in the painful damming back and drying up of what still surged, but had nowhere to go. Only the thin pulsing left that could not quiet, suffering over lives one felt, but could no longer hold nor help. . . . And they put a baby in her lap. Immediacy to embrace, and the breath of that past: warm flesh like this that had claims and nuzzled away all else and with lovely mouths devoured; hot-living like an animal—intensely and now; the turning maze; the long drunkenness; the drowning into needing and being needed. (670)
What is at stake for Eva in holding the baby? Is she “unfeeling,” as her husband accuses? Or is something else revealed in her reaction? What does the baby represent in Tell Me a Riddle? Why is the baby’s need so threatening to the mother’s sense of self?
Instructions:
Your initial response should be at least 3 paragraphs (5-8 sentences each).
Include at least 4 quotes from the novel to support your ideas
Be sure to use MLA-style in-text citations for ALL quotes and examples from the text.
DO NOT USE OUTSIDE SOURCES FOR ANY ASSIGNMENT IN THIS CLASS! Your only sources should be the assigned readings; I’m interested in your analysis of the readings ONLY.

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