Theme of Life and Death in 'The Mother' by Gwendolyn Brooks

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About this sample


Words: 712 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2022

Words: 712|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2022

Gwendolyn Brooks was an African poet and teacher and who was most famous for her famous writings such as “The Mother'. The story is about a moither who has to cope the decisions shes made with the many abortions she’s had where she claims it was against her will. The mother goes back and forth throughout the story with her actions, as she accepts both sides of the situation. In the poem, she utilizes numerous writing devices such as metaphors, imagery, and rhyming. She uses these devices to tell the story she wants to tell. The reader has to make inferences to get a sense of what truly happens throughout the story. One of the main ideas of the poem is the thought of life and death where she struggles to cope with the idea of both. The use of her literary devices and the pronouns she uses helps the reader understand the poem to a better extent.

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Brooks likes to use a rhyme scheme because it demonstrates the progression of the speaker’s thoughts and emotions throughout the poem. The author shows her grievances and her mourning of her actions through her rhymes. The first stanza demonstrates what’s on her mind as she’s struggling with the idea of what she’s done. The first lines of the poem says, “Abortion will not let you forget. “You remember the children you got that you did not get. “The first sentences contains a rhyme scheme that helps the reader understand that the mother is talking how she would talk to her child if it was alive. What could’ve been said to her children if they had lived, is now said into the air as her children will never hear her. The relationship between life and death from what’s being told from the narrator is that you can take a life away so easily but the remorse afterward is something you would not want to cope with.

The author likes to use pronouns in a way to describe her feelings towards abortion. She switches from different perspectives to give the reader a view of what she’s truly feeling from all viewpoints. The use of pronouns in the theme of life in death is a crippling one to follow. She uses deep meaning sentences that use the first-person pronoun to exemplify her feelings towards life and death. “I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children. I have contracted. I have eased.” Dealing with death is a tough task to overcome, especially if you’re at fault with it. To compare life and death in this situation, she has come to terms in dealing with her life with the guilt of her actions but has come to peace with it knowing she cant dwell on it forever and its in the past.

The use of memory in the poem is used to show the switching from the past and present. With the drastic decisions she’s made in the past, it has impacted the decisions she makes in the present. In the poem she dreads about the decision of aborting her children yet states she had no other choice to put them to rest. The mother used this pronoun of 'got that [she] did not get' (Brooks 2). The shift in her voice with her referencing to her memory in the line gives us readers a sight of how she remembers the death of her children. Brooks also uses memories to show what the mother could’ve had if she had not made the drastic decision she made.

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Language that is being used throughout the poem helps to perceive the story as a whole. Literary devices are used frequently throughout the poem to help understand the setting and the audience that is being spoken to. The theme of life and death is presented in the poem, with the narration varying from different views gives readers a look at what she’s truly feeling from all angles. She shows how easy it is to take a life away without much thought into it, and dealing with such guilt afterward is a terrible feeling. She shows how life goes on and you have to come at ease with yourself to get over the damage you’ve done.         

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Theme Of Life And Death In ‘The Mother’ By Gwendolyn Brooks. (2022, April 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Theme Of Life And Death In ‘The Mother’ By Gwendolyn Brooks.” GradesFixer, 11 Apr. 2022,
Theme Of Life And Death In ‘The Mother’ By Gwendolyn Brooks. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Theme Of Life And Death In ‘The Mother’ By Gwendolyn Brooks [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 11 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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