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The Mother by Gwendolyn Brooks – Analysis Essay for English 101

2012 April 29
by recessionjuice
Gwendolyn Brooks - Picture Courtesy of Poetry Foundation

Analysis essay of, “The Mother” by Gwendolyn Brooks. This paper focuses on the “dramatic situation” and how the speakers attitude about that situation changes throughout the poem. Additionally the essay considers how the formal elements of the poem help convey that meaning and attitude.


When thinking about personal experiences, “The Mother” by Gwendolyn Brooks touches on the often emotional topic of abortion. This poem was produced decades ago, yet still remains relevant to this day. Accepting abortion and the outcome can indeed be a challenging task for many, while others adapt to it without much of a problem. Gwendolyn Brooks writing allows us to take a look at the mothers view point of abortion and how a mother responds to her unique situation. Throughout the poem the speaker shows signs of grief concerning the topic of abortion and its outcomes by presenting to us her point of view, memories, love, subtle triggers, and confusion.


From the first stanza of the poem, the speaker provides us a quick snapshot of her feelings about the abortion. The first stanza is set in a second person point of view, with much of it explaining how her children will never realize certain fulfillments in life. Reading the second stanza in the poem, there is a sudden change to a first person point of view, where the speaker references herself multiple times. From this section in the reading, it becomes apparent this is much more of a personal matter to the narrator.

In the beginning of the poem the speaker shows a mother unable to forget the dramatic events, which have trapped her emotionally. We can see an example of the narrator facing more than one painful memory of abortion in the very first line, “Abortions will not let you forget”; followed by a mention in the first line of the second stanza, “…voices of my dim killed children”. Both the words “abortions” and “children” are given plural reference, which can be interpreted to mean more than one abortion is being spoken of in the writing. The memories of a mother dealing with the hardship of one abortion is hard enough, while additional abortions just adds to the discomfort of a grieving mother. What about the relationship between the narrator and her unborn children? Does she actually love them?

Not having a loved one around can dramatically change a person or entire family. Losing more than one loved one only compounds the emotional impacts of grieving. We can take a present day example from military members, who are away from their families for extended periods, causing both anxiety and grief. If the mother really loves her children, it is understandable why she may grieve over them. This notion is conveyed in the second to last line of the poem when the speaker says, “Believe me, I loved you all”. This line confirms the speakers love for her would-be children. Grief and love may go hand in hand together, especially when the love is true and viable. Most families and individuals agree separation from a loved one, can most certainly set off processes of grieving.

Expressions and signs of grief vary by the individual and the unique circumstance. At times, something very subtle yet so simple may set off the emotional response of grief. The speaker tells the audience that as a mother she would never see the opportunity to, “buy with a sweet,” (line 6) her children. This references encouraging your child to comply with your wishes, with the commonly used treat or snack. These simple triggers show just one of the many memories she will never find due to the outcome of her abortions. Other than the very subtle triggers of grief, mixed emotions can play a major part in a grieving soul.

Confusion is definitely a factor in the reading, which is a relatable attribute to grief. Confusion appears as one of the longer lasting results of her abortions. Near the end of the poem, the narrator is speaking of her abortions:
“Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made
But that too, I am afraid,” (29-30).
The reader can also see 3 ideas given in the four lines. Digging into the meaning of the lines we see she believed the aborted children to be dead; or perhaps or potentially, never created; followed by confirming all of the aforementioned ideas to be discouraging and scary to believe. With a mix of both confusion and denial, the narrator shows disagreement with herself about the ideas and thoughts she is facing. Confusion is a natural occurrence, especially for a grieving mother, who has gone through more than one abortion.


While reading through the entirety of the poem, the narrator provides the reader clear signs of grief via confusion, subtle triggers, love, memories, and the point of view of a mother. The speaker confirms for us the love she has for her dead children as well as the painful memories, which expose themselves during the process of grief. Reading the poem also reveals the fact this is not the only abortion the speaker is writing of, proving to be a major contributor to the grieving in the poem. The poem is a great read for any first timer or anyone experienced with poetry. With a variety of topics throughout the poem, one may find that there is more than just grief, which shows itself in the poem. Other than abortion, one must ask what other major attributes play a part in this amazing poem by Brooks?

Works Cited

Brooks, Gwendolyn. “The Mother”. Poetry Archive. New Directions, 2002. Web. 12 Jan 2012.

A “Private” Response on Ron Paul

2012 April 29
by recessionjuice
Congressmen Ron Paul

This short response is a reply to a comment on Ron Paul via Facebook. Names have been omitted for privacy reasons

It is very difficult to achieve change when you are working with an “Establishment” – that is a Washington DC that is full of corruption via special interests. He always votes against raising the debt ceiling, but everyone else is voting for it? How does that make sense?

Ron Paul stands against everything the “Status quo” stands for and if nothing else would put a “Brake” on how things are run in DC if President. This would give a chance for a turn around in that Ron Paul would not BS the American public about the reality of our situation, which would be an absolute disaster for the current establishment as this would actually educate the American public instead of the real smoke and mirrors from the Federal Govt. You do make a good point about Che Guevara!

It doesn’t take that much looking to see inflation is out of control and our dollar is still sinking in value, much of this due to, again, the out of control spending in DC. So weird how the federal government tries to “Fix” all the problems accept the most apparent one with a HUGE RED FLAG hanging out (debt). This is why we need Ron Paul and people who value the constitution in the cabinet, congress, and the house.

Special interests come with $$ and the politicians fall in line, but that is not the case with Paul nor has it ever been. Ron Paul does not accept money from special interests – an extremely rare and uncommon for someone who has spent time in government. Ron Paul also donates a portion of his salary back to the US Treasury – to help pay down the debt (kind of laughable, but good to know!)

Ron Paul is the reason the Federal Reserve was audited (See:

Ron Paul actually had a practice at a private job as a OBGYN and delivered something like 4k babies & treated the poor for free at his clinic

Ron Paul will end the “war on drugs” – which happens to end up being the most racist and harmful program they have created for the working class and minorities in particular. All you have to do is look in the prisons and jails.

Ron Paul want to end the Federal Income Tax (cites it as unconstitutional) and replace it with nothing – this helps the working class with an instant and permanent raise on all income levels. (A *REAL* stimulus)

Ron Paul wants to allow young workers to opt out of social security – this helps the working class. Everyone else will get to keep their benefits. If I were to opt out for example – there would always be the option to just take this money from the government and invest it in your privately held account so they don’t decide how much of your money you get back!

Ron Paul is big on individual responsibility and states rights – the idea that Issues can be handled with local government to figure out what works best for those citizens on most issues.

Do I agree with everything Ron Paul says? I can’t say I do. I do make an attempt to research my information and spread out my sources to get different views – as I am trying not to spread false information! lol

Obama has unfortunately continued the status quo and is spending an enormous amount of money that we don’t have. They haven’t even passed a budget for themselves. Only the American people have helped the US Economy – I give the president or congress NO credit for that. We will soon be required to pay a new healthcare tax on top of this in 2014? Whew – I am going to be a lot broker a lot quicker come that time unless I see a raise sometime soon lol.

Spending is like a drug up there in DC – Being blinded by the $BLING$ is easy I guess lol.

Ron Paul is doing one thing right for sure – waking up a new generation to the realities we face – hopefully some of us outsiders like me and you can make it in and make a real change, that is the hope and goal. Dr. Paul really is a man of integrity and honesty, which I really like. I do plan to run for some local offices, just to make a small difference in my community and to promote the positive change I seek.

Thank you for the reminder also it always helps to get others viewpoints and the conversation is great I really enjoy it – I know politics can get a bit edgy…. you should have been at the convention! lol

Here is the budget he proposes if you want to check it out:

The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara – Analysis Essay for English 101

2012 April 4
by recessionjuice
Toni Cade Bambara - The Lesson - Essay English 101 - Picture Credit: Social Justice Columbia University and Barnard College

Short Fiction Analysis Essay focusing on the notion that “literature is political” and the comment the story makes about the characters socio-economic position


It is February, which means that it is officially Black History Month. Take “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara as just the story to diversify any reading list with some authors who aren’t so familiar. Bambara was born in 1935 (Schirack) and was an active participant in the civil and women’s rights movements that helped to shape the culture of the 70’s. Virtually all people want the right to a decent life and education, no one argues that. Not everyone grows up the same way or with the same privileges, which is generally understood. Bambara’s, “The Lesson” shows the story of young children growing up in poverty and how an educator creates the environment to help them not only discover, but succeed in learning some very important issues about their immediate world around them. Education for those children in poverty stricken neighborhoods, such as Sylvia’s, proves itself difficult to acquire, however is essentially the best way to move beyond poverty; shown by the way of role models, attitudes towards others, first impressions, exposure, realizations, and Miss Moore the educator.


Today, it would be hard to fathom virtually an entire community that lacks an education. Miss Moore was the only educated black woman in Sylvia and Sugars neighborhood. Sylvia and Sugar are best friends and also cousins, they share in the experiences and lessons taught from Miss Moore. She is the primary resource of education for both girls during the story. Being educated, this made Miss Moore a rare spectacle as most children would likely “go to the pool or to the show where it’s cool” (Bambara), however Sylvia and Sugar were being forced to meet with Miss Moore by their parents. From the parent’s point of view, “. . . it was only right that she should take responsibility for the young ones’ education” (Bambara). The parents themselves realize this is very important for their children, but they do not necessarily take their own advice and at times fail to meet some of their own obligations for the children.
Parents, who live in poverty stricken neighborhoods, are not always the best role models they could be for their children, discouraging them. At times they are even displeased towards role models like Miss Moore in their own communities for no apparent reason. Sylvia herself notices this type of treatment when she hears the grown-ups speaking about Miss More, “behind her back like a dog” (Bambara). Although, the parents will “shape and crisp up our clothes” (Bambara), before they present their children to Miss Moore. We see a double standard displayed by parents talking about another behind their back, but never saying a word to Miss Moore directly. If the parents are speaking of Miss Moore, behind her back, what becomes of children like Sylvia’s attitudes towards education and their educators? One must wonder what they held against her, other than her education. The parents show a type of persona that is unfortunate towards Miss Moore.

Sylvia and Sugar both display negative attitudes toward Miss Moore, applying similar views of education and educators as their role models. They “kinda hated her too,” (Bambara), mentioned Sylvia early on. Most parents can agree that children soak up all kinds of traits from others they hear, meet, and speak with. During this time, we know that Sylvia hears fellow grown adults talking distastefully about Miss Moore. If a child is brought up in an environment of negativity for extended periods of time, they may mimic characteristics of that environment to others around them. This negative attitude towards the only educator around them can be puzzling to understand, but presents itself as one of the challenges of acquiring a decent education in their neighborhood. The children like Sylvia and Sugar are still learning and are absorbing new thoughts all the time.

First impressions are vital for children like Sylvia, as this is the very first judgment they make on whatever the particular issue at hand may be. Miss Moore brings the children to downtown New York for a field trip to FAO Schwarz, for one of her lessons that day. After arriving on Fifth Ave, it appears this becomes the first real impression the kids have ever had of white folk. Again, keeping in mind the period of time this was in, and the remembering that these children live daily staring at poverty. The first impression is that white folk are very much different from them, with fancy clothes or so Sylvia says, “. . . everybody dressed up in stockings. One lady in a fur coat, hot as it is. White folks crazy” (Bambara). Additionally, Sylvia’s cousin, Sugar asks Miss Moore, “Can We Steal?” when they are nearing FAO Schwarz toy store. This would seem to be a no-brainer answer for most, but she was asking a legitimate question on her own behalf. These comments are genuine feelings spoken from the mouths of Sylvia and Sugar. It is accepted that when experiencing something new, a no-brainer question to some, will be inquired about from others as part of new processes. Broadening a young mind by viewing how others are different or relate to them is an important part of education.

Being exposed to situations, which are unfamiliar and unknown, can be a significant learning lesson for the young. Sylvia had always considered herself very outgoing and a risk taker. She openly acknowledged in the story that “Back in the days . . . me and Sugar were the only ones just right,” (Bambara). However, during the field trip Miss Moore takes them on, she fails to have enough confidence to enter the door first at FAO Schwarz, instead opting to “kinda hang back” (Bambara). This is the same girl who went, “. . . into the Catholic church on a dare” (Bambara) and now displays a timid, shy, and embarrassed side of herself, declining to be the first to enter. Sylvia starts to wonder why she is holding back, as this usually does not happen. For the first time Sylvia sets back, and begins to learn a lesson from the toy store field trip. Feeling out of place is a normal and the experiences and lessons taken from Fifth Ave continue to expand their minds to new revelations.

If one does not realize they are in a specific type of situation, they may either remain in the situation or will ultimately escape it, education is crucial to obtaining the knowledge to do the latter. Sylvia and Sugar do not realize they are growing up in poverty until Miss Moore the educator teaches them this lesson. Miss Moore escorts the kids out of the toy store and finally asks them their own thoughts about the trip. Sylvia is angry because there is nothing she can afford to buy, thus left to window shop all of the toys for the day. Sugar tells Miss Moore that “this is not much of a democracy if you ask me.” (Bambara); feeling a serious divide between what some can afford and others cannot. At this time Sylvia herself thinks, “something weird is goin on, I can feel it in my chest” (Bambara). That “weird” is finally realizing that they are indeed living a life in poverty, the opposite of wealth. Although, this does not stop them from achieving more, it puts some questions they may have had in perspective. Without the opportunity of education like this, they may have remained ignorant to these facts. To have the young children speaking about this openly to each other is a great step in the right direction.

Miss Moore’s education to the children, such as Sylvia, proves to be a very important and valuable resource the kids obtain. Miss Moore represents a consistent and dynamic personality throughout the story for the kids. She is able to give the children’s mind exercise and put them through enough working scenarios for the material to “click” for them. By providing the children opportunities like fields trips to Fifth Avenue in New York or “next week’s lesson on brotherhood” (Bambara), she captures the children’s attention by bringing in a variety of routines. Without this type of role model and educator, such as Miss Moore, the kids would never have questions like, “Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don’t it?” (Bambara).


The value of education for the children end up outweighing the obstacles these children must face, when growing up in poverty. Readers of this story are reminded of both the difficulty and the value of education through Sylvia and Sugars realizations, exposure to the unknown, first impressions, attitudes, role models, and Miss Moore the educator. Miss Moore gives many opportunities for the children to take advantage of the best gift being given to them, education. They go from being close minded about some issues regarding poverty and their own statuses, to realizing the bigger and more important issues they should be concerned about. Communities must make sure to endow their children with education properly. A Miss Moore in every community like Sylvia’s and Sugars would certainly go a long ways. What can you recommend to your community to help improve education?

Works Cited

Bambara, Toni Cade. The Lesson. 1972. Web. 2 2 2012.

Schirack, Maureen. Toni Cade Bambara. Ed. Lauren Curtright. 11 08 2004. Web. 12 02 2012.

Trifles by Susan Glaspell – Analysis Essay for English 101

2012 March 25
by recessionjuice
Susan Glaspell Essay English 101 - Picture credit: Wikipedia Contributors

Drama Analysis Essay focusing on the notion that “a play is a representation of the society in miniature”


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (United States Congress, The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription). There is no mention of women in the declaration and the United States as a country took a while to adopt these positions for all individuals. Not until 1920 did women achieve the right to vote legally (United States Congress, The Constitution: The 19th Amendment). “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, is based in 1916 and is a one act play, which includes elements of what the women’s suffrage movement was all about. Upon graduating from Iowa’s Drake University in 1899, Glaspell kicked off her writing career of writing short stories and novels (Ozieblo). The play from Glaspell tells the story of a murder mystery involving the married couple of Mrs. Wright and her husband, the murder victim, John Wright; this story also incorporates the mood of society at the time towards women, their social status viewed as beneath that of a male. “Trifles” shows the discriminatory mentality commonly accepted among men towards women in 1916, as well as showcasing the significant role comradery plays for women in equaling out playing field for their selves; portrayed through the plays expositions, dialogue, theme, character, and symbolization.


The characters of the play consist of Mrs. Wright, John Wright, county attorney George Henderson, Henry Peters the sheriff, neighboring farmer and witness Lewis Hale. This leaves the two main protagonists in the story of Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, the respective wives of Henry Peters and Lewis Hale. The murder mystery takes place in the empty farmhouse of John Wright. The men take charge of the investigation and leave the women to pick up a few items for Mrs. Wright’s convenience.

From the start of the murder mystery come early expositions into the perspectives of the males less than equal attitudes towards women. During a routine investigation Mr. Hale` is explaining his encounter to the county attorney and his reasoning for visiting John, mainly being an attempt to convince John, for the second time, to buy a telephone. Also believing his chances would increase for a more desirable answer, he hoped for Johns wife to be present, saying, ” . . . though I said to Harry that I didn’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John” (Glaspell 2). This comment throws a hint to the audience about John’s attitude toward his wife, as if John was the type of husband who neglected considering Mrs. Wrights wishes. The County Attorney tells Mr. Hale, “. . . I do not want to talk about that” (Glaspell 2) brushing off the subtle clue promptly. The first note taken by the county attorney was only incriminating to Mrs. Wright, noting a scared look on the face of Mrs. Wright according to further testimony by Mr. Hale who continued to highlight, “. . . maybe it wasn’t scared” (Glaspell 3). The County Attorney does not care how John may have treated his wife, instead targeting Mr. Hale’s statement regarding the alleged “scared” look on Mr. Wrights face. Limited consideration is also taken for women during this time when spoken to by a man. The men’s bias is often and openly expressed to the women verbally.

According to the dialogue of the play, the men show they do not deem what the women say important or relevant. Mrs. Peters says one comment on how Mrs. Wright worried about her fruit freezing, which it indeed had due to being left out. With haste, the Sheriff fires back, speaking to his male partners, “Well, can you beat women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves” (Glaspell 3). The men agree in general about the Sheriffs comment, “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell 3) , says Mr. Hale. The dialogue of the play shows the ignorance and general lack of respect given to women’s comments. Even the Sheriff speaks to his wife openly as if a women’s role in the home was meaningless. For the first words spoken out of the mouth from his wife, the harassment appears irrational for just making conversation. The prejudice from the men is obvious and once a reader or audience starts asking questions about how the men treat the women, a trend is noticed regarding the men’s principles.

Undoubtedly the common theme in this play from the men’s side is a lack of support the golden rule. The golden rule is commonly understood to mean “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” (Wikipedia Contributors). The County Attorney kicks his foot against the pans underneath the sink after finding no clean towels, telling the women “Not much of a housekeeper, would you say ladies?” (Glaspell 4). What kind of person kicks another individuals cookware for reasons like so? At a time where a kitchen was a place dominated by the women as the homemaker, this shows the lack of respect given to the women’s main domain. An audience or reader may wonder if Mrs. Wright was present, whether the Sheriff would choose the same decision to kick his foot against the pots. Similar to the men, the women are more uniform in ideals, but do not display the type of discriminatory bias the men have.

As Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale gather belongings for Mrs. Wright, oppression is symbolized in a unique way via a dead canary bird with a rope around its neck. Mrs. Hale finds the dead bird in a box of Mrs. Wrights and tells Mrs. Peters “She used to sing. He killed that too” (Glaspell 9) explaining the type of marriage Mrs. Wright had. The bird with a rope around its neck communicates with the audience or reader the life Mrs. Wright lived after marriage with her husband. Mrs. Wright was a free woman and then restricted and isolated from the things she loved. Long gone were the days when Mrs. Wright “. . . stood up there in choir and sang” (Glaspell 10). Singing was shut out from her life and the rope around John Wright’s neck restricted his life in the same way. Compassion is shown by both Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale in defense of Mrs. Wright.
Both women have a comradery that determines the outcome of Mrs. Wright’s fate in a much larger way than the men, by humbling themselves to their fellow woman and outsmarting the men. Mrs. Hale ultimately takes the dead bird in her pocket in order to keep it hidden from the men and to protect Mrs. Wright. “We don’t know who killed that bird” (Glaspell 10) said Mrs. Peters, although an audience or reader of the play would be able to assume some sort of association with the rope around the neck of John Wright and the dead bird. Both women know something about this bird connects with the case and would be very valuable to the murder investigation, yet they are humble towards Mrs. Wright and her life. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale help to disprove, “. . . a motive; something to show anger, or – sudden feeling.” (Glaspell 6), which are the keys to the case according to the Sheriff. Eliminating the bird with a rope around its neck takes care of a solid piece of evidence, which would certainly be used against Mrs. Wright. From fruit preserves to nearly solving a murder case, the women do not give the men a clue as to what they have discovered from their time in the Wright residence.


This play incorporates the mood of society at the time towards women, their social status viewed as beneath that of a male; while showing just how prominent a role comradery effects situations for women like Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. 1916 was a time near the peak of women’s suffrage as women all over the nation had begun to stand up against the prejudice and discriminatory ways of their male counterparts. The women and not the men gather the clues to the murder mystery, while additionally changing the odds in favor of Mrs. Wright’s innocence, showcasing the importance and significance of comradery during the 1900s between every day women. The women challenge the status quo of male dominance reigning supreme for everything. Bringing the story into terms for today, one may still see women outsmarting the men in some areas like organization. The United States has been a nation that has experienced groups of people willing to fight hard enough for their freedoms no matter what the cost. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale help the audience visualize some of the fight and what is takes to win back your own liberty.

Works Cited

Glaspell, Susan. Tifles. 1916. MyLiteratureLab. Web. 22 February 2012.

Ozieblo, Barbara. “About Susan Glaspell.” 2010. International Susan Glaspell Society. Web. 25 February 2012.

United States Congress. “The Constitution: The 19th Amendment.” 18 August 1920. National Archive and Records Administration. Web. 25 February 2012.

—. “The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription.” 4 July 1776. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 25 February 2012.

Wikipedia Contributors. The Golden Rule. Vers. 477898481. 20 February 2012. Web. 23 February 2012.