Sue Miller’s protagonists in “While I was Gone” and “The Senator’s Wife” struggle with living life as it’s laid out in the societal template (marriage, children, family) and a craving for “something else.”
You might say that in this 21st century women are under no “template.” I believe our ideas about life are still very structured, for both men and women, even in this land of the free and home of the brave.
Don’t believe me?
Tell your family and friends that you’ve decided to leave that steady job and [fill in the blank with your dream].
Let me know how they react.
Actor George Clooney chooses not to be married and is continually pestered about this fact. Why can’t we accept he’s chosen to be a bachelor who has the looks and fame to sleep with any woman he wants until they bore him then move on?
What’s so threatening about a man who doesn’t want to be married?
In 1992 Hillary Clinton answered the charge that she wasn’t a good mother and made headlines have arisen again as we question yet another woman’s role as female (Ann Romney).
Why did Clinton’s comment about not wanting to stay home and “bake cookies” ruffle so many feathers?
What’s so threatening about Hillary Clinton?
These are just two “something elses” in an infinite list of “something elses.” Why are there not more “something elses” going on?
Miller’s Female Characters
Miller’s female characters are attractive to me and very real because they deliberately or impulsively make choices based on this need for “something else.” They then must deal with the results.
Miller’s characters make perfect discussion fodder for book clubs – they make choices and you (and the characters themselves) wonder, “Should she have done that?” and “What if she’d just have . . .”
I don’t believe Miller is trying to create book club discussion points. Miller, a Sagittarius sun, probably struggles with impulsive choices versus stability in her personal life.
Miller is sun in Sagittarius and moon either in Sagittarius or Capricorn.
Her Sagittarian sun is opposed by Uranus (exact), Mars and Saturn in Gemini. The Sagittarian sun opposed by Uranus and Mars in Gemini represents an impulsive and unpredictable nature. That Miller’s characters struggle with conventional life (high school, college, steady job and steady marriage), suggests her moon may be in Capricorn. Also that Saturn in Gemini may add to impulsiveness followed by guilt.
Except for a moon in Capricorn, Miller’s chart would be all air and fire, intellectual and intuitive, constantly seeking both stimulation (Gemini) and meaning (Sagittarius).
What is the “something else” that Sagittarians seek?
I was impressed with this article on the cognitive processing of liberals versus conservatives. The article states that conservative individuals seek “cognitive closure.”
In astrological terms, I see cognitive closure as relating to the earth and air elements. Earth likes to live in the realm of the practical and usually rejects the complicated because, simply, it’s complicated. There are bills to pay and dinner to make so who cares about the complicated situation in that country far away that I can’t right now see, touch, taste, smell or hear.
Air loves to categorize and put every idea in a chart or grid. Air doesn’t necessarily like it simple, but air would also want closure, to have every idea and stimuli labeled and tagged somewhere, at least. But I don’t see air as rigid as I do earth. Air likes to play with ideas and could live with cognitive non-closure until an idea found its rightful place in the master chart of ideas.
Water lives in the world of emotions and fire lives in the world of possibility and both require intense imagination. I see water and fire as least interested in cognitive closure for that very reason. Imagination is a flowing, non-structured state.
For an earth sign, cognitive closure is a cozy living room filled with comfortable furniture. For an air sign, cognitive closure is a puzzle of pieces that have finally fit together. For a water sign, cognitive closure is a stifling denial of the many feelings that don’t fit any pattern. For a fire sign, cognitive closure is simply a boring prison that removes the possibility of possibilities.
Sagittarius, the mutable fire sign, is known for its quest for meaning and what late-astrologer Howard Sasportas called the quest for the sublime. Cognitive closure to a Sagittarius is a brick wall that cuts off the view of “something else,” “something more” and “something different.”
Many of us get lost on road trips and worry about where we are. Sagittarius looks up the street and wonders where it leads.
Sagittarius is the opposite of a xenophobe; rather than fearing “different,” Sagittarius seeks “different.” Consequently, Sagittarians are often wandering and traveling to far-off places.
While Sagittarians, in their quest for meaning, often find their way into organized religions, Sagittarian is the one who is most likely to break the rules, regardless of how arrogant and smug the Sagittarian may act about its beliefs.
Sagittarius is the monk who knows to sit in silence but can’t resist the urge to chase the butterfly that’s just flown past his nose.
Capricorn, on the other hand, is social structure. Capricorn loves hierarchy and class and relationships based on rules and laws and regulations and four-way stops with stop signs and anything else that might be termed structure or infrastructure.
Stop signs are great to have at four-way stops so don’t dislike either Capricorn or its planetary ruler, Saturn. Once in Columbus when the power went out for five days, I not only yearned for functioning traffic lights, I vowed never, ever again to curse stopping at a stop light. Without those lights, havoc reined.
Now imagine a chart with this desire for “something else” (sun and Mercury in Sagittarius) and comfort zone of obeying authority and structure (moon in Capricorn).
That makes for a Sue Miller character, who runs out of her ordinary life, then back in, then out again (sometimes). Miller’s characters don’t disdain ordinary life; they simply hear the siren call of “something else” and heed the call. The characters seem to appreciate both ordinary and non-ordinary life but don’t know how to mix these two as they are like oil and water.
Miller, as author, makes no apologies for her characters’ choices. The characters are fully responsible for their actions, which is very moon in Capricorn. Capricorn does not care to either give or receive pity.
Miller’s writing ability problem stems from her three planets in Gemini (Uranus, Mars and Saturn). Gemini is more the journalist than the novel writer with a love of words for their own sake and language in general. With Saturn hanging about in Gemini, Miller can probably slash you apart with her words, if she chooses. With Gemini, words can also be misleading.
Sue Miller is Something Else
Miller has captured the complicated state of being a person (usually female) in a civilized society who feels the call of something else or something more.
Because she’s writing novels, Miller must present some resolution at the end. If she didn’t, her editors would probably force it, as many of us like cognitive closure at the end of an artistic work.
Miller the Sagittarius dares to tread in territory many of us avoid, the territory of unusual and impulsive choices.
Miller is something else.