Motherly Roles In the spirit of Mother’s Day approaching, I felt it only obligatory to talk about the mothers in the novels in which I’ve read. I could mention the first lady in which I read in class from the novel “The Great Gatsby”, although this lady being Daisy Buchanan wasn’t much of a motherly role to commend. The mother I’d like to take my hat off to would be Ma Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath. ” In comparison to a great motherly role is Mrs. Kelly in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. ” These are two mothers who would do anything to keep their families together.
What is a mother? Yes, a mother is one who has conceived, given birth, and raised children through their own social, cultural, and religious differences. A mother is gentle, yet strong. A mother always shows you just how much she cares and always makes you feel as if you belong, even though you may feel she is completely off. A mother is a dependable source of comfort, a cushion when you fall, a constant supporter through indecisive decisions, and one who gives guidance while you’ve drifted through a dark tunnel. No wonder we pay much tribute to our mothers.
They are with us through think and thin and through the good times and the bad. From the six novels discussed in class, I believe Ma Joad from “The Grapes of Wrath” amplifies the mother role. John Steinbeck writes an endearing novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” about love, lose, hopes, struggle and the importance of family. Ma Joad was the courage, wisdom, and matriarch of the family. She was the mother to the main character/narrator Tom Joad. Whenever the Joads were ready to give up, Ma Joad would reinforce them with enough courage to go on.
She even gave the voice of reason to Pa Joad when he was too weak and losing his place as head of the household, the voice of reason to keep him from giving up. She was the strongest person in the whole family. She not only had to be the right hand for her husband, but the strongest person for the whole family. She always had reassuring words to keep her family moving such as, “us people will go on living when all them people is gone. ” When someone needed reassurance or advice, she was there for those who needed some guidance. Ma Joad was a woman of experience, which made her so wise to those she ncountered. She was the matriarch of her family as the head woman of her household. She is always strong and helpful, wise and courageous. She has the same fears as the rest of her family, but she keeps it well hidden to show her triumph through such hard times. Later in the book, Pa Joad actually looses his place as head of the household in weakness and Ma took charge. It’s hard to compare another mother to Mrs. Joad from the selected novels, but at least one did spark my interest. “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” was Carson McCullers first novel published in 1940 when she was only twenty-three years old.
She wrote her novel as an autobiography, which is ironic because it is her mother that truly stands out now and not the fictional character I thought she was. But for the sake of making things simple, I’ll just stick with the character in the novel. Carson McCullers herself was raised in Columbus, Georgia. Her father was a watchmaker, like in the novel, who also owned his own jewelry shop. In her early teen years her parents supported her in her interest in music. This support structure and the few glimpses of Mrs. Kelly is where I drew the conclusion that she is a good mother and deserves to be compared to Ma Joad.
Although, the comparison will be short and far between, she is a mother none-the-less and more so than Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby,” for example. Mrs. Kelly in the novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is a mother to six children. Imagining six children in present time 2000 is difficult to even fathom with the economy dropping, but six children in the 1940’s just directly after the Great Depression, it seems impossible. Mrs. Kelly’s husband breaks his hip at his carpenter hob and is restricted to a wheel chair until he recuperates. His unfortunate outcome has him running a watch-repair business out of his own home.
While, Mrs. Kelly helps with the watch-repair and takes care of the children as well as runs a dry cleaning out of their home. She offers to take in boarders to help put food on the table. With a husband unable to do fatherly roles, she hires a maid named Portia to help raise the younger children, cook, and clean. The family is considered poor in statue, but it doesn’t deteriorate from wanting the best for her family. Now in a time rebuilding from the Great Depression, most families are living the same, unless living a background of wealthy grandparents and great grandparents.
She is an ideal mother of today and of definition. What makes a good mother? This is a pertinent question and one, which should never just be answered in a few words. Mothers are comprised with a bundle of emotions that defy reason. Mothers are meant to be there spiritually, physically, emotionally, and in modern society, financially as well. Ma Joad and Mrs. Kelly cannot be compared completely to one another since they do have different backgrounds and different situations at their foot beds. As per contrasting them, there is none, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are mothers one in the same.