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“Mother” by Grace Paley Essay

The Jewish Grace Paley was born in 1922 and grew up in the Bronx, New York. Quite dedicated in the civil rights movement she started writing short stories in the fifties. Additionally, Paley was involved in the women’s- and the peace movement. She wrote a number of short stories but got never done a whole book. Her stories contain mostly daily people from different ethnic groups, especially of the Jewish population. Grace Paley often tells her stories in an ironical sound and perspective of a female narrator. “Mother” is a short but profound story. It is told through the flashbacks of a daughter. Pointing out several details, the image where the mother stands in various doorways is the most remarkable one. At the end of a story, there is a sentence “I wish I could see her in the doorway of the living room.” As a reader, I understand that the narrator utter these words from the bottom of her heart. It is likely to me that there is a mixture of feelings expressed in this saying: nostalgia and regret.

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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