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the mother

the mother

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Politics Theme

As far as the United States is concerned, abortion pretty much equals politics. It's hard to even talk about abortion without talking about politics, because abortion has been a hot button issue for pretty much… oh, we're gonna say forever. Even after the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade case that gave women the right to reproductive freedom, abortion rights have been steadily debated and challenged. It was even a huge topic in the 2012 election. Our point is that it's hard to keep the discussion of abortion confined to the personal realm. It's hard not to read an agenda into any art that takes up the issue. Brooks's "the mother," without coming out explicitly for or against abortion rights, makes a lot of subtle—and often contradictory—political claims. It refuses to turn the conversation about abortion into a black and white discussion, and it acknowledges all of the gray areas in the debate by painting an incredibly human, and humane, portrait of a woman who has had an abortion.

Questions About Politics

  1. Can you boil the politics of this poem down to a simple pro-abortion rights or anti-abortion rights stance? Why or why not? 
  2. Can you read this poem as apolitical? It is highly personal, after all.
  3. How do you think the speaker would feel about Roe v. Wade? What parts of the poem support your answer?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

This poem is pro-abortion rights. Deal with it.

This poem is anti-abortion rights. Deal with that.

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