Feb 17, 2016
By Judith Pratt
A mysterious crate of tribal masks appears in the office of a disaffected academic and her struggling young grad student. Meredith hopes that the masks, and their stories, are a ticket out of her hated teaching job. Jill, struggling for meaning in her life, hopes the masks will supply her with a belief in—something.
The two women learn that the masks might be forgeries made by Emma, who traveled the Pacific in 1910. Or the masks may have been made by the indigenous tribe Emma visits and describes in her journal. As Meredith and Jill find and read the journal, Emma, in the past, writes and comments on it.
The three masks represent the traps women encounter at each stage of life—maiden, mother, and crone. The maiden gives up everything for love; the mother starves herself for her children; the crone nearly destroys the world in her fight against death. Jill loves the Maiden; Meredith fears the Crone; between them they are Mother and daughter.
Obsessed with the masks, Jill argues with Meredith, forgets to eat, burns her dissertation—and discovers something to believe in.