Study Guide

Mommy in Tar Beach

By Faith Ringgold


Get your Scooby snacks ready, because Mommy is a bit of a mystery.

Cassie doesn't seem quite so close to her mom, so we don't know too much about her. Whereas Cassie describes what her father builds and seems to know his problems inside and out, she observes her mom from more of a distance.

The little that Cassie tells us suggests that Mommy had a tough time after Daddy left. Cassie tells us "she cr[ied] all winter." (16) Cassie knows all those tears are connected to her father's absence somehow, but she's not quite sure how it all fits together.

We get the feeling that Mommy doesn't talk about her problems much.

Mommy Dearest

Even though Cassie is bit of a daddy's girl, her love for her mom still comes through loud and clear. More than anything, she wants her mom to be happy. For instance, in her imagination, Cassie wants Mommy to "laugh and sleep late like Mrs. Honey." (17)

All the pictures of Mommy show this fantasy, instead of what was happening in her real life. We don't know for sure why Mrs. Lightfoot is such an early bird, but we're guessing she had to work. That was pretty unusual for mothers in the mid-century, who often stayed home to take care of their kids—but with Daddy gone, Mommy's stepping up to care for her family as best she can.