Little C


The author uses an interesting and provocative means for making her point. Although Nussbaum is never explicit about the connection between Little C and the woman’s former husband, the relationship between the two is made fairly apparent early on. The woman’s ongoing referencing to specific characteristics, both behavioral and physical, that she expects to be present in the child forces the reader to conclude that Little C is a clone of her former husband. This conclusion is additionally supported by the woman’s impatience in regard to Little C’s physical maturation and by her desire to imitate the “mother” character in the story of George Sand’s story.

By continually describing the physical features of Little C from the woman’s point of view, the author immediately draws in the reader and maintains his attention. Also, the frequent mention of Francois le Champi, a story which parallels that of the woman and Little C, builds anticipation in the reader as to whether Little C will culminate in a sexual encounter between Little C and the woman. However, as the story moves along, it is increasingly obvious that Little C is not the same person as the woman’s former husband. Little C has different interests and personal and physical characteristics, and this is disappointing to the mother. She had desired to recreate her husband, and her inability to do so leads her to make the profound conclusion that everyone is different, regardless of his/her genetic makeup.



The author clearly makes a case for the importance of “nurture” in determining one’s outcome. That is, biology does not entirely control one’s destiny. This, of course, is Nussbaum’s primary and most obvious point. Nevertheless, the story of Little C still indirectly suggests that “nature” does play an important role in development too. Little C had a genetic predisposition to being what most consider talented. He, like the woman’s husband, had a high level of innate “general” ability that manifested itself in a number areas. Although Little C and the husband channeled their ability in different areas, the case for “nature” is still made.


                                                                                                                Stephen O’Connell






~ by oconneds on January 29, 2008.

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