Shopping is based on tribulations of a mother daughter relationship that are exposed during their annual shopping trip. Mrs. Dietrich is a middle aged woman whose marriage collapsed due to betrayal by her husband. Mrs.
Dietrich's only outlet for giving and receiving love is through her seventeen year old daughter Nola, who she desperately longs to have an intimate relationship with. Mrs. Dietrich hopelessly tries to preserve Nola's childlike image, fearing, she will no longer be needed when Nola becomes an adult. Mrs. Dietrich overwhelming fear of loosing the love of her daughter is causing her to be a friend instead of a parent. Mrs.
Dietrich unwillingness to enforce parental guidelines combined with her lack of communication is pushing Nola away, and could potentially ruin their relationship. Mrs. Dietrich was twenty-nine years of age when she finally got pregnant with Nola. Mr. and Mrs. Dietrich had been trying to get pregnant for nearly five years.
The Dietrich's new found happiness suddenly brought them closer than they had ever been. Never before did the Dietrich's have such intimate feelings towards each other. In awe of his wife's beauty, Mr. Dietrich got Mrs. Dietrich a reproduction of a famous painting. The painting was of a radiantly beautiful pregnant woman, this would be a token of appreciation for being pregnant with their child.
These acts of kindness and intimate feelings for each other would be their last. Even before Nola was born, Mrs. Dietrich knew she would try to live vicariously through Nola, but this time her life would be perfect "It would be herself again, reborn and this time perfect" (221). Nola was born and by the age of eleven she grew up to be a quite "plain, rather chunky, unhappy child" (220). Nola in her awkward adolescence would say outrageous things for attention. For instance, one night at dinner with her parents and some guests of her parents, Nola told offensive stories about a black baby getting his nose bit off by rats.
The guests of her parents were appalled by Nola's stories; they began to make hateful comments about Nola. Mr. Dietrich wasted no time scorning Nola, he told her he was sick of her games and made her go to her room. Nola was heartbroken; she left the room crying and embarrassed. Mr.
Dietrich also gave Mrs. Dietrich a tongue lashing on how she needs to learn how to control her daughter. Mrs. Dietrich's codependent, un confrontational nature prevented her for sticking up for herself, and more importantly Nola. A couple of years later Mr. Dietrich moved out and got an apartment downtown.
He said it was just a separation, but Mrs. Dietrich knew it meant divorce. The financial arrangement he made with Mrs. Dietrich upon the divorce was quite generous. Nola got credit cards in her name at all the high end boutiques for her allowance. Mrs.
Dietrich would be able to stay the same, unemployed and totally dependent on Mr. Dietrich. One year later, Mr. and Mrs.
Dietrich decided to send Nola to boarding school in Maine. Thirty days after Nola left for boarding school, she called her mother to let her know how happy she was. Nola was so excited, she was tripping over her words unable to get them out fast enough. She explained how she loved all the people there, and how she was making so many new friends. Nola couldn't wait to tell her mother about a teacher there who she loved.
Nola made sure to clarify that she meant regular love, not in love, because that would be weird. This was too much to swallow for Mrs. Dietrich, she began to cry. Instead of being happy for her daughter's new found acceptance and healthy mentor, she felt sorry for herself. Mrs. Dietrich is having a hard time coping with her daughter gone.
Nola's lack of calling home or writing causes Mrs. Dietrich to ask her friends if this was normal. Her friends tried to reassure her, but Mrs. Dietrich felt that she was forgotten.
Mrs. Dietrich is consumed with thoughts of when she was pregnant. She thinks about how wonderful it was to have Nola entirely dependent on her. Mrs.
Dietrich makes references to how the nine months she was pregnant with Nola was the only time she was truly happy. Mrs. Dietrich does not seem to have been happy upon the birth of Nola. Mrs. Dietrich was almost devastated that her pregnancy ended so "abruptly" (222). The mere fact that Nola was no longer in her womb and others were able to enjoy Nola made Mrs.
Dietrich jealous. Mrs. Dietrich emotional state is rapidly declining without contact from Nola. Mrs. Dietrich is consumed with her love for her daughter. When she is lonely she feels the need to drink to take the edge off.
This lonely drunken state causes Mrs. Dietrich to think about Nola even more. Mrs. Dietrich has almost convinced herself that she is in love with her daughter. Nola is coming home for eight days which, makes Mrs. Dietrich very excited.
Nola is no longer a little girl. She is a beautiful five foot seven, seventeen year old who weighs less than one-hundred pounds. Mrs. Dietrich instantly suspects that Nola has an eating disorder, but is afraid to bring up the subject.
Mrs. Dietrich can't wait to go on their annual shopping trip, but Nola has cancelled it twice already. The shopping trip seems to have sentimental value only to Mrs. Dietrich, since this is how Nola and she bonded after the divorce. Finally the day in question is here. The girls are headed off on their shopping trip.
The day however, was off to a bad start. Mrs. Dietrich keeps thinking about how this day has to be perfect, this is Nola's last day home. Nola is tired and not talking with her mother. This upsets Mrs.
Dietrich, she is probably thinking her "private thoughts" (217). Mrs. Dietrich wants to speak with her daughter, yet says nothing, afraid of how Nola will react "they have been through that before" (218). Upon entrance to the mall Nola and her mother see a homeless woman.
Nola is very upset by this. Not because she is in the mall but the horrible reactions people have to her. Mrs. Dietrich seems to be offended at Nola's mature outlook. Mrs.
Dietrich wanted to protect her daughter from the homeless woman, and her daughter wanted to protect the homeless woman. After hours of shopping and a few battles in Mrs. Dietrich's head, the two of them went to lunch. As Mrs. Dietrich drinks her wine holding back questions she so desperately wants to ask, Nola lights up a cigarette. This upsets her mother, but she is unable to say anything.
During lunch Nola tries to bring up two separate conversations that are very important to her. One of them was about going to France for a semester of school. Mrs. Dietrich shoots down the conversation instantly. This upsets Nola and she uses inappropriate language towards her mother and father. The second conversation is the most important of all.
Nola wants to know why they don't "talk about it" (224). Mrs. Dietrich asks if she means France and Nola said no. Once Mrs.
Dietrich understood what kind of conversation this was, she avoided answering any of Nola's questions. Even though Nola really wanted to talk about "it" (224), that would be too painful for Mrs. Dietrich to handle. Throughout "Shopping" all Mrs. Dietrich talks about is how bad she feels or how Nola's distance is affecting her.
She talks about their problems, but does not do anything to resolve them. She never wonders how Nola feels, or how any of this is affecting Nola. Mrs. Dietrich is so consumed with the idea Nola might one day stop loving her; it is making her unable to function as a parent. Mrs. Dietrich is a codependent woman who determines self worth on how others feel about them.
Mrs. Dietrich is the type of woman who has a child for the purpose of having someone to love them. Nola is a child who is coming of age, she needs guidance, and discipline from her mother. Mrs. Dietrich is clearly confused on what a mother's role really is. Although, there are no perfect mother daughter relationships, there are perfectly wrong mother daughter relationships.
Mrs. Dietrich's overwhelming fear of loosing the love of her daughter is causing her to be a friend instead of a parent. Mrs. Dietrich's unwillingness to enforce parental guidelines combined with a lack of communication could potentially ruin their relationship.