© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
the mother

the mother


by Gwendolyn Brooks

the mother Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #4

I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate. (14-21)

Here the speaker really ponders the lives and deaths of her non-existent children. She puts herself with the picture with the conditional "if"—if she "seized" their "lives," if she "poisoned" them. It's starting to sound like perhaps the speaker really believes that they were alive in utero.

Quote #5

Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried. (24-30)

Okay guys, if you were confused already, get ready for even more confusion. The speaker here is wavering and considering all of the different ways to categorize these aborted pregnancies. Then she breaks it down as simply as possible: they children had bodies, but they never lived. So, when does life begin for this "mother"? We're not sure, but we are sure that these unborn children were something more than just clumps of cells to the speaker.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...