Mother Albertina is the director of the girl’s school “Sisters of Loretto Academy of Our Lady of the Light” in Santa Fe
, which Lily attends at the age of 13.
She is a rather pragmatic
and very intelligent
person. She is the one, who tells Lily that her mother’s opinion that women are determined to marry and get children is not the only possibility. According to her, they can also lead an independent life:
“A lot of parents send their girls here for finishing […] so they’ll be more marriageable. But you don’t have to get married, you know […]. In this day and age, she went on, there were really only three careers available. A woman could become a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher” (p. 39, ll. 8 - 26).
She advises Lily to become a teacher: “I think you’d make a wonderful teacher. You have a strong personality. The women I know with strong personalities […] become teachers” (p. 39, ll. 32 - 35).
When Lily has to leave school because her father is not able to pay the tuition anymore, Mother Albertina encourages her:
“Now, don’t start feeling sorry for yourself. […] You’re luckier than most girls here – God gave you the wherewithal to handle setbacks like this” (p. 42, ll. 17 - 19).
Thanks to Mother Albertina, Lily is able to teach in Red Lake at the age of only 15. The maxim74 “When God closes a window, he opens a door. But it’s up to you to find it”
(p. 42, l. 25 f.) is Lily’s life motto from then on. That is why Mother Albertina has a key role75
in Lily’s life, although she is only a secondary character in the novel.