Sunday, October 19, 2014

rough first draft

                                                                     The Mother

                                                            By Gwendolyn Brooks

        The poem “The Mother” by Gwendolyn Brooks evokes a myriad of emotions in the reader. 

 The title itself brings to mind a singularity that she is “the mother” not a mother but emphasis on the mother.  Brooks by using this title makes the reader identify with the image of our own mothers. The title can also refer to a negative connotation as in the derogatory abbreviation of  Motherf**ker.   This interpretation would be a bit absurd but to each his/her own. That is the beauty of poetry it suggests but does not give graphic descriptions of each event.

            The first stanza and in particular the first line: “Abortions will not let you forget”  

(Brooks 1).  This line changes the universality of mother into directly addressing you (the reader).  The slang or vernacular of the next line states that “you remember the children you got that you didn’t get”. (Brooks 2). This suggests that you were pregnant and expecting a child but you never got it because of an abortion?  The poem goes on to describe the fetus as “small pulps with little or no hair” (Brooks 3). Is Brooks deliberately deemphasizing the humanity of the fetus by referring them as meaty scraps?  The first stanza of the poem Brooks has rhyming couplets: forget, get, hair, air, beat, sweet, thumb, come sigh, and eye.  

 “You will never neglect or beat” (Brooks 5).  Is this a rationalization to mitigate guilt over the abortion? Brooks paints a picture of a mother that would dote on her children with a “gobbling mother-eye.” (Brooks 10). The mother would buy sweets and never leave them (the children) but this negates what her first line of the poem states. Abortion is the mother choosing not to bear responsibility the babies that would come. This stanza is make-believe of what an ideal mother would do and that she would cherish each memory of motherhood.

            The second stanza lines 11-33 are significant because Brooks ends the rhyming couplets.  This stanza is about anguish and regrets.  Brooks twice depicts the children as “dim”. Does  Brooks suggest that since these children never saw the light of day that they are dim because their life force or inner light was stolen by the decision of the mother to abort? In this stanza Brooks starts with the pronoun I and uses it frequently in the stanza. Brooks also first mentions the word “sinned” and crime. Does this mother now admit if only to herself that she feels guilty over the abortions?  “I have stolen you births and your names”. (Brooks 18). The mother will never know of each baby’s loves, marriages and life itself.  Her babies will never cry “straight baby tears.” (Brooks 19).  Brooks in line 23-24 of the poem denotes that the mother “poisoned their breaths but even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate”.  The mother is communicating that she made the decision to abort but it wasn’t personal? She did not view them as people at the time maybe only as a malignant growth?  The mother is remorseful and questioning her decision but maybe she had no choice in the matter and abortion was kinder than life would have been for the children.  She mourns the lack of existence of her children that she got but didn’t get.  The mother reluctantly states that the truth is the babies were born and died but “never giggled or cried.” (Brooks 31).  Maybe the mother is now too old for childbirth and she wonders what her children would have accomplished in life.  Did she have the right to decide their fate?  Did she make mistakes?    Brooks in this stanza is verbalizes what every woman might think after an abortion. It is a life-changing decision whether you decide to abort or to have the baby.  Personal shame and sorrow mark this stanza. Grief is apparent in the lamentations of the mother.

            The last stanza where the mother is pleading with the reader to believe that she loved you (the children) she is begging for their forgiveness. She knew them faintly but she loved them.  Is it possible for a mother to terminate her pregnancy and still feel the right to mourn the nonexistent babies?  Is the last word in the poem “All” (Brooks 35) meant to encompass every woman who has had an abortion?  Is she asking the reader to understand that the choice of an abortion was difficult and she did not make the decision out of convenience but out of necessity?

            The poem asks forgiveness but does the mother ever forgive herself. She makes excuses for her decision until the end and she states that her babies were killed.  The mother acknowledges that she made decisions and that she grieves for all that might have been.  The poem does not tell the reader what factors weighed in the termination of the fetus.  Was the child a consequence of rape?  Was the child the result of incest and sexual abuse?  Was the mother already burdened with too many children to care for properly?  The use of the word all is significant because it suggests a universal forgiveness regardless of the action.  Remorse is the end result of all abortions and compassion for the difficult choices by the mother. 

            It is interesting to note that nowhere in the poem is the father mentioned, it leads the reader to assume that the decision is the woman’s right and not the father’s decision to bear the child.  Is Brooks leading the reader to believe in choice and not condemnation for the mother?



  1. Vanessa,
    Please review the instructions on the assignment sheet regarding consulting sources for this paper... Your analysis needs to be entirely your own ideas.

    1. I don't understand your comment. my analysis is my own idea. Please be more specific. Thanks! Vanessa

    2. Vanessa,
      You have some ideas in your paper that repeat a website analyzying this poem, for instance, "First, it announces who the speaker of the poem is: it's "the mother." It's not "a mother." The speaker of the poem is defined by her singularity—she's "the" mother." You were not allowed to consult outside sources when formulating your analysis for this essay. Also, you need to craft your paper as an essay, not just an interpretations of the different parts of the poem as they do on this website. See the assignment sheet and the examples on Blackboard and let me know if you have questions or would like some help.

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