Summary of the Mother by Grace Paley
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.
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.
She may have not only lost her mother but she might have also lost someone who never judged her.
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Paley, G. (2006). Mother. A world of fiction: twenty timeless short stories, second edition. Sybil Marcus. New York: Pearson Longman, 103-111.
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