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Mother/Daughter Relationships in Literature - Book Report/Review Example

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Mother/Daughter Relationships in Literature

Everyday Use, Alice Walker: Mama, speaking honestly from the first person point of view, could be trusted: "I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands" (Walker, 1). A strong, intelligent realist, she valued hard work and education, loved both her daughters, wanted the best for them. To her, Dee had trampled over what was important. This was shown, when describing how Dee read to her and Maggie. Mama used words of powerful, concrete imagery: - "without pity", "forcing", "burned" and "pressed", "trapped and ignorant". Dee, clever and confident, educated (thanks to Mama), and ambitious, removed herself from the traditional values, the simplicity, the family history and her origins. This spoilt the relationship.
The conflict around the quilts was a metaphor that illustrated the separate cultures, shared by Mamma and Maggie, and the new values Dee, now called Wangero, had embraced. Background, lifestyle, family connections and love were sewn into the quilts, which Maggie understood and Mama valued. To Dee, they symbolized (along with the butter dish and dasher) a statement of her position in society as a Black American. She did not perceive their true value and heritage, they were 'things' to enhance her status. Like her new name, the objects signified a new set of cultural values she adopted, casting off the old. When Mama took them from her and gave them to Maggie, this symbolized their differences. Dee's parting words clarified altered values and perceptions, reflecting American society. "You just don't understandYour heritage,It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it." (6).
Two Kinds Amy Tan: June (Jing Mei), the daughter, the first person narrator, vividly expressed Chinese traditional cultural values of her mother, Suyuan, and the differences in perception between mother and daughter. As the adult June remembered her childhood conflicts with her mother, traditional views on obedient daughters, and the American assimilated desire to be free of constraint and be oneself, emerged. 'Two Kinds' were explicit in Suyuan's comments after the talent contest failure. "Only two kinds of daughtersthose who are obedient and those who follow their own mind!" (142). This could be interpreted as the child's inner conflict, pulling June away from her mother's values. She understood her mother's belief that "you could be anything you wanted to be in America" (132) and those Chinese values of hard work, education, obedience and ambition, but resented the pressure, believing herself to have failed her mother. At the same time, she thought: "I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me." (142). June asserted her rights to be her own person, apparently rejecting her mother's values, saddening Suyuan. In contrast to Everyday Use, the traditional cultural values were reconciled, as June took the old Chinese silk dresses home. The piano piece she had played so badly became a metaphor for this coming together, when June realized it was only one half of a whole song , the 'two kinds' that made her June and Jing Mei, 'The Pleading Child' and ...Show more

Summary

In both stories, the mothers' perceptions and values differed from their daughters', with more than the universal mother/daughter relationship problems, such as arguments and rebelliousness. Race, personal history, education and differences between Black American, Chinese, and mainstream American experiences added to the conflicts…
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