Motherhood in Literature

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Professor Steven Peacock
English 1000
29 November 2010
The Joy of Motherhood
The moment the child is born, the mother is also born. She never truly existed before, even though she has been carrying the child for nine months. The woman existed, this is certain, but the mother was an unknown character. A mother is something new, along with the new life she holds in her arms. The mother must learn to do just this, mother. Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. Throughout the years, mothers have been the inspiration and have been portrayed in many different types of work including film, poetry, novels, short fiction and more. Two works studied this semester present two very different mothers that, despite their differences, share many motherly qualities. The mothers in question are from “To a Daughter Leaving Home” by Linda Pastan and “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan. While Tan’s depiction of the mother is more strict, stern and disciplining, Pastan’s motherly figure is concerned, in a loving manner, and open to the hard changes that lie ahead. By comparing and contrasting the events from the stories that each mother faces, these two fictional mothers’ weaknesses and strengths will be highlighted.

It’s been said that a mother’s love cannot be compared to any other form of love. However, the forms of love a mother uses can be compared to raise positive and negative aspects. It is evident that both mothers, from Pastan’s poem and Tan’s short story, each love their daughters very much. One way of demonstrating this is the fact that both mothers take time to assist their daughters in some sort of task. Meimei’s mother took her to her chess tournaments where she “wore the triumphant grin” (Tan, p. 717). “When [she] taught [her] at eight to ride a bicycle” (Pastan, l. 1-3), the mother was involved in teaching and playing with her young daughter. Both stories are looking...
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