Study Guide

the mother Guilt and Blame

By Gwendolyn Brooks

Guilt and Blame

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get, (1-2)

There's a sense of guilt in "the mother" right from the get-go. Abortions are not something that you can forget. They have a way of changing you, the poem suggests.

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

By referring in this line (and throughout the poem, actually) to her children, the speaker implicitly acknowledges that they've had some kind of life. Consequently, they've been "killed" by the abortion. Hello, guilty conscience.

Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate. (21)

This is a tricky line. The speaker seems to say that even in her deliberate decision to have an abortion, she was not deliberate. Does this mean that she didn't kill her unborn children on purpose? That she did not realize the extent of her feelings for her not-yet-existent children? That she now regrets her deliberate decision? What do you think?

Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?— (22-23)

The use of the word "crime" is so loaded here. It's the ultimate admission of guilt in this poem. And there's a recognition here, too, that the abortion was no one's decision but her own. This is heavy stuff, guys.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All. (30-32)

In these final lines of the poem, love seems to overcome guilt. The speaker doesn't end by talking about crimes; she ends by talking above love. Does this mean she's moved on? Probably not. After all, abortions don't let you forget. But maybe these lines suggest a glimmer of hope. Perhaps love endures longer than guilt, and love will be her way of coping with her guilt from now on.

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