Dignity and Privacy Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Did the Duty That Lay Nearest Her

By Ellen Goodman Copyright The Boston Globe Newspaper Co. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 22, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Dignity and Privacy Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Did the Duty That Lay Nearest Her


Ellen Goodman Copyright The Boston Globe Newspaper Co., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


She went home to die. There would be no strangers coming down her hospital corridor, whispering outside her door. No paparazzi angling to get at her bedside.

The spokesman for the hospital had said, as spokesmen have said so many times before, "Mrs. Onassis and her family have asked that her privacy be respected at this time."

The reporters, the curious, the well-wishers were kept at arm's length for one last time.

Jacqueline Bouvier. Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie O. It was a malignant cancer indeed that killed this most private of public women at 64 years old.

The woman's image was seared into our national photo album half her lifetime ago. She was 34 years old - only 34 - on that day when she flew back from Dallas, still dressed in a pink suit stained with the blood of her husband.

In the days that followed, Jacqueline Kennedy become the icon of national mourning. She set a standard for the stoicism we call dignity in the face of death. She did this as she did everything - with courage, in public, under a veil.

Jacqueline Bouvier. The daughter of Black Jack. The 18-year-old who was chosen the Debutante of 1947. The diffident Vassar and George Washington student who became the "inquiring camera girl" for the old Washington Times Herald. The wife of the young senator from Massachusetts. The first lady.

At times, she looked like a deer caught in the Kennedy headlights. She hadn't voted before her marriage, didn't care much for politics, was more attracted to art than policy, and liked shopping more than touch football.

We thought we knew her. We thought she belonged to us. She has been on more magazine covers than Madonna. We followed every move, every hairstyle and lifestyle change. We knew her favorite diet dinner - baked potatoes with caviar - and her favorite designers.

But it was a compliment that she didn't return, an intrusion she lived with but didn't welcome.

As a single mother, the most famous widow with the most famous children in America, she chose to raise Caroline and John as well and as far from the spotlight as possible.

"I was reading (essayist Thomas) Carlyle," she said once after Jack died, "and he said you should do the duty that lies nearest you.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Dignity and Privacy Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Did the Duty That Lay Nearest Her
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?