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Summary of the Mother by Grace Paley

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When you read Paley's "Mother" for the first time, you think, "Okay, so why would anyone give this to students to read when there's so much more that can be squeezed out of other short pieces of writing?" Why not give them Lawrence or Joyce to help analyze 159 facets of human relationships? Slap them with some Chopin or Woolf, both of whom produced slightly longer short stories through which you'd be able to demonstrate how a short story works and get a nice discussion going about relationships to boot.

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The first reason of her wish is that she misses her mother. She misses her so much with all what she used to do when she was alive. All her memories seem to revive within her mind. We all know that family sentiments are very delicate, especially sentiments between mother and daughter. Therefore, even years after her death, whenever she misses her mother, everything seems like just happen yesterday. The second reason for her wish is because of her regret or repentance

When her mother was still alive, she made her sad and worried a lot about her. Now she wants to see her mother again to tell her that she has made a great progress. She has become mature and led a good life as her mother always hoped. Also, she feels regretful because her mother died when her mind was full of worry; neither the daughter nor the husband set her mind at rest. If her mother reappeared in the doorway again, she would tell her immediately that she could feel secure about her future and rest in peace. Above all else, it is her nostalgia and regret that she wishes to see her mother again in the door. As human beings, people often do not know what they get until it has gone. Consequently, they live with nostalgia and regret. The author uses a lot of stylistics devices to make the story more sentimental. There is a rhetorical question “what will become of you?” which shows the mother’s concern about her daughter’s future. We can see that the mother really cares about her daughter. Another impressive stylistic device is when the father complains about his work. He uses a repetition of the word “talk”. It occurs four times in one paragraph. As a result, he says the words “talk talk talk talk” back-to-back but, nevertheless, still doesn’t talk to her which shows his indifference. The author uses a quite simple language, and keeps her sentences relatively clear and brief. She might do this to point out that the narrator is just a simple girl, a teenager. The lesson I draw from this story is that we should cherish what we are possessing, especially our parents. Their love and care is endless. Like it is said the story, most don’t take much of their mothers’ advice, but later they realize how important they were.

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The modern American author Grace Paley’s short story entitled “Mother” deals with a child who remembers her dead mother via a song she hears on the radio

The story is narrated by the grown up daughter. She wants her mother to see, years after her death, that she can take care of herself, and that her mother’s doubts about her child’s future have not come true. The story is divided into two parts: in the first part “Then she died” (Paley, 2006, 104), the child talks about how much she longs to see her mother at different places of the house, in many different doorways, and in many other rooms. In the second part, she recognizes that the requests of her mother are not fulfilled both by herself and by her father. With this recognition, the story ends with the repetition of the phrase “Then she died” (104). Drawing upon the lexical, grammatical, and figurative effects in the story, the aim of this paper is to depict, through the analysis of discourse situation, point of view, average sentence length, lexis, grammar, figures of speech, and speech presentation, how the specific use of language unravels the mother’s worries about her child, distance in the family, sense of missing the mother, all of which contribute to the theme of lack of communication among family members.

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In the long run, a bond that would be very different to that of a father and daughter. It might also be important that on two occasions in the story Paley tells the reader ‘Then she died.’ Though it is clear what is meant by this line the fact that it is used twice suggests that the death of the narrator’s mother had a severe impact on the narrator. It is as though things came to an end and all the narrator is left with is her memories. Something that might be difficult for the narrator to come to terms with

She may have not only lost her mother but she might have also lost someone who never judged her.

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Leech, G. N. and Short, M. H. (1981).Style in fiction. New York: Longman.

Paley, G. (2006). Mother. A world of fiction: twenty timeless short stories, second edition. Sybil Marcus. New York: Pearson Longman, 103-111.

Peck, D. (ed) (2009). American Ethnic Writers. California: Salem Press, 862-866.

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