Thursday, May 7, 2015

Top Six Mother Figures in Literature

I have been thinking about some of my favorite mother figures in literature.  The mother figures who help the main characters as they work through problems, encourage them to grow, protect them from evil, but step back and let them become who they're meant to be.  So I decided to write a post in honors of Mother's Day this weekend.

In no particular order:

1. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza's mom helps guide her through losing her home and becoming a immigrant to a
new country.  Esperanza grew up with everything she could ever think of, but when her father is murdered, she and her mother must flee to America with only the things they can carry and the help of their former servants.  She struggles with this change and accepting that they will never be able to return, but her mother is kind when she needs to be, and stern and demanding when Esperanza needs it.  No matter what, her mother stands by her and shows her how much she continues to love her.

2. So B. It by Sarah Weeks

Heidi It lives with her mother in an apartment, but her mother, as long as she could remember, has
always been mentally handicapped.  Their neighbor, in a connecting apartment takes care of both Heidi and her mother.  Bernie, an agoraphobic, does not leave her apartment and has managed to help Heidi and her mother since she discovered them when Heidi was just a baby.  She keeps them safe, helps keep them fed, and when Heidi must go out and discover her mother's past, Bernie steels herself against her fears and supports her.  Although there are many things that Bernie could have done differently, she loves Heidi with all her heart and has not only been a mother to her, but to Heidi's mother as well.

3. Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance loses her adoptive parents right at the beginning of this book.  She creates her own family as she figures out how things are going to work for her now.  Through many twists and turns Willow ends up befriending Mai Nguyen, who is a kind of mother figure to her, taking her to her house, making sure Willow is okay.  Mai's mother also fights for Willow, staying one step ahead of Social Services and making sure that Willow finds a home.

4. Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montegomery

One does not expect Marilla Cuthbert to be a great mother when first meeting her.  Our first experience of her is that she's upset that Anne isn't a boy and she's going to take her back because of the mix-up.  But then she doesn't because already she's protective over Anne and won't let her go to some woman who will just use her as a helping hand.  Although Anne tries Marilla's nerves, we see Marilla loosen up and soften as she lets Anne into her life.  She celebrates Anne when she gets the highest grades and saves Diana's baby sister.  But she also supports her when Anne accidentally gets Diana's drunk, standing by her and helping her try to make amends.

5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Like all parents, Isabel Pullman wants her son, August, to be safe and feel loved.  August was born with severe facial differences and looks very different from others.  Isabel knows how cruel kids can be, and she wants to keep him safe from the stares and words that could tear at him.  She also knows that she has to let him go, allow him to grow and always be there.  Isabel isn't perfect.  We see her struggle in her relationship with her daughter, Via, but we also see how hard she tries and how much she wants to jump in and take it all away, but holds back as much as she can.

6. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (spoilers--sorry!)

Okay, so Harry Potter has three mother figures in his life, which is maybe cheating, but who cares! First, is Mrs. Weasley, which seems obvious.  She dotes on Harry and makes everyone feel at home.  Harry feels like a part of their family when he is with the Weasleys and Molly Weasley is a big part of that.  She protects her children with everything she has and her shining moment is in the final book during her battle with Bellatrix.

Next is Professor McGonagall.  Not only is the head of the Griffyndor house, but she is the professor Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to when they need help.  She is strict and has high standards for her students, but she cares deeply for them all and will defend them until she can no longer.  

Finally, Hermione acts as a mother figure to Harry.  She holds Harry to a high standard and acts almost as a conscious for the trio. She is the voice of reasoning and even when Ron leaves in the last book, she sticks by Harry because she believes in him and will always, always support him.  It doesn't matter that her heart is breaking from Ron's leaving.

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!!

Who are some other literary mothers that you like?

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