Sunday, May 11, 2014

Memorable Mothers in Fiction

As we were approaching Mothers' Day I asked The Reader Bloggers to think about memorable mothers in fiction - whether stellar examples of maternal love or maybe not so much. They had a lot to say!

You almost certainly wouldn't want her as your own mother (although she might find you a rich husband), but Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite mothers in fiction. I like Mrs Bennet because although she lacks social graces and has a completely one-track mind, she clearly loves all of her daughters to the point of obsession about seeing them all well-settled. Alex

You know, I was thinking about Mrs Bennett too. In my head I was comparing her with Marmee from Little Women. Marmee did all the right things - she encouraged generosity and charity in her daughters, didn't push them to a wealthy marriage, but rather encouraged them to follow their hearts and their talents. Still though .... I'd take Mrs Bennett ... Marmee was a little stiff and preachy. My vote for worst mother ever in fiction - gotta be Margaret in Stephen King's Carrie. Maureen

Definitely agree about the terrifying mother in Carrie. If we’re thinking about bad mothers, I was always both horrified and entertained by the warped version of motherhood in V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic (a guilty pleasure). The grandmother in the story is extremely evil and manipulative to her daughter and her grandchildren, while the mother in the story is too weak to truly do anything to protect her children. And of course the protagonist, Cathy, finds herself having to take on the mothering role to her two younger siblings because there is no one else, but she is determined to do a better job than her mother and grandmother. Disturbing but fascinating family dynamics. Ashlee

One mother I’ve been thinking about is Neeva in Richard Ford’s Canada. Leaning towards disturbing and fascinating, she is nothing like the cruel matriarchs in Flowers in the Attic. We don’t see a lot of action from her. Instead we rely on her thoughts and memories, and her son Dell’s perceptions. She has found herself in a life that is different from what she expected, and she doesn’t know how to change that. She is intelligent and loves language, but mostly she appears unfulfilled. I felt empathy for her, but was also frustrated by her passiveness. Living in several small towns, she encourages her twins to remain separate from the community; in part because they might leave again, and because of her judgments against others. She has a quietly profound impact on her children of how not to lead one’s life. And Neeva is just one part of the larger psychological study that is Canada. Sam

We Need to Talk About Kevin has the mother that one minute I hate and the other minute I feel sorry for. Eva never really wanted to be a mother, especially one of such a hateful son. Kevin deliberately makes life a living hell for his mother. The reader is left to wonder about nature vs nuture when Kevin massacures 7 of his school mates and a teacher. Eva self-punishes herself by staying in the town where the events took place. As I said I had mixed feelings about this character and this show how wonderful Lionel Shiver's writing is. Rosemary

My favourite fictional mom is from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars: I admire Mrs. Lancaster, Hazel’s mother, from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars! Hazel describes her mother as her best friend. Mrs. Lancaster is a very kind and emotionally strong woman. As the mother to a 16-year-old cancer patient, she has made it her life to care for Hazel. She treasures every single moment, takes every opportunity to be enthusiastic at small occasions and celebrates life. Julia

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