From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 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 #1

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get, (2)

Right from the very first lines of the poem, the speaker refers to her aborted pregnancies as "children." She thus seems to suggest that they have life. Just imagine how different the poem would be if Brooks instead wrote: "You remember the fetuses you got that you did not get." The word "children" carries so much more emotional weight.

Quote #2

You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye. (9-10)

The speaker refers to her "mother-eye," and she imagines herself acting as a mother to real-life, breathing children. It's hard to imagine a "gobbling mother-eye" fixing itself on a fetus. The mother's fantasy of her non-existent children is intense—and embodied.

Quote #3

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children. (11)

Okay, now the speaker refers to her non-existent children as "killed children." Interestingly, she doesn't say that she killed them; she uses "killed" as an adjective (not a verb). And, we've gotta ask: can something be killed that was never alive? We're starting to think that the poem suggests that life begins way before birth.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...