Critical Rsponse "My Mother's Blue Bowl"

1363 words - 6 pages

"My Mother's Blue Bowl" is a biographical essay by Alice Walker which parallels Walker’s strong relationship with her mother. The essay follows the life of Alice Walker and her mother, in the American South during the twentieth century, as they move into the projects. In doing so the family abandons the mother's dream of a "decent house”, in order for Alice and her siblings to go to college. The underlying theme of this essay is renouncing materialism, being happy with what one has, and building on the ability to surrender possessions without regret. This theme is shown through the poverty that Walker and her family live in, as well as the content Walker’s mother has in regards to where she ...view middle of the document...

Through her writing, Walker acknowledges that society bases a person's worth on what they possess, and this determines what social class they belong to. However Walker’s mother is an example of an individual who refuses to give in to society’s capitalism. Walker comments that "each time I visited her I marveled at the modesty of her desires. She appeared to have hardly any, beyond a thirst for a Pepsi-Cola or a hunger for a piece of fried chicken or fish" (Walker 252). Walker's mother does not find money, possessions, or even a "decent house" more important than her children's happiness. Her children going to college, and breaking the racial stigma in doing so, is reward enough for her. Although she owns virtually nothing, which to most would mean everlasting misery, Alice remembers her mother "Glowing. Her teeth sparkling. Her eyes twinkling. As if she lived in a castle and her favourite princes and princesses had just dropped by to visit" (Walker 254). Not only is Walker's mother not resentful for the sacrifices she made, she is actually happy with her life, and with the love and values she passed along to her children.
The job of a mother is to love, support, and protect her children, no matter the cost to themselves. This selfless love that is embodied in Walker's mother, as well as in a majority of the mothers in the world, is even more apparent in the essay when examined through a feminist lens. The entire essay is female-centric, meaning it is entirely focused on the mother-daughter relationship between Walker and her mother, with minimal mention of her father or any other male characters. Walker's mother never stopped giving. She gave her love, her support, her possessions, and even "in her last healthy days, before a massive stroke laid her low and left her speechless" (Walker 252), she still gave Alice the blue bowl. She could have taken her last days in life to reflect on the choices and sacrifices she made, and how her life could have been different without children. Instead, her primary focus was still taking care of her children, even if she was the one who was not well. Thankfully, the mother's sacrifices were not in vain, as "her gardens flourished in spite of the shade, as did her youngest daughter, for whom she sacrificed her life doing hard labor in someone else’s house, in order to afford peace and prettiness for her child, to whose grateful embrace she returned each night” (Walker 252). It was as if all of the mother's children were flowers, and the mother was the gardener who provided them with everything they needed to grow and prosper, despite the poverty (shade) that they lived in. Another important item that mothers give their children, though sometimes they wish they did not, are valuable life lessons. Mothers achieve this by leading through example, and Walker's...

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