Another Look at “the mother”

September 22, 2010

I want to take a look at some of the content we didn’t get a chance to talk about in class yesterday in regards to Brooks’ “the mother”.  Looking at the first paragraph, Brooks uses a lot of “you’s” to discuss abortion – “You remember the children,” “you will never…”.  It’s as if in this section she’s staying disconnected from the topic – she’s almost lecturing the audience on what will happen if YOU go through this process.  I interpreted this disconnect as Brooks reflecting on what would certainly happen if you were to have an abortion – possibly even doubting the act, presenting it as a disgrace or mistake.  The line “you will never” is repeated three times, an emphasis on what is taken away from you in this context.

After the first paragraph, Brooks shifts into using “I” as the subject for the rest of the poem.  “I have heard in the voices”, “I have contracted”.  She is no longer staying disconnected to the topic – we hear her personal experiences and her thoughts on the subject.  However, I think there is still a sense of disconnect with the subject, only now it is more of a disconnect by way of uncertainty.  “If” is used at the start of a few lines in the second and third stanzas, as if to ask if her decision was the right one, or as if to ask permission to be forgiven.  There are also a number of questions posed within the second two stanzas: “Whine that the crime was other than mine?” and “how is the truth to be said?”.  Both reemphasize the uncertainty of the mother, and although there is no longer a disconnection with the topic, Brooks has staged her poem as a constant flow of uncertainty; a feeling that I’m sure goes hand-in-hand with the decision of abortion.

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