On a day when the country pauses to honor its mothers, it only makes sense for an author and lover of literature to highlight the mothers of readers’ favorite fictional characters. Let’s start with the fairy tales of our youth. Cinderella? Snow White? Er, perhaps some later classics. Maybe the lads fare better. Like Tarzan? Oliver? Huck Finn?
Okay, so you don’t have to read too many books to determine a pattern when it comes to mothers in literature. Authors love their moms. No, really. They love them and respect their power to influence their children so much that they kill them off in droves. Some authors are kind enough to kill off their characters’ moms in the noble act of childbirth, but most prefer more violent murders, since it creates a lifelong motivation for vengeance in their main characters.
Still not feeling the love? Look a little deeper. If orphans like Oliver Twist didn’t suffer from the absence of a mother’s love, they’d never be sucked in by the first scummy person to give them some attention. What would Fagin be without his orphan minions? If motherless lads like Huck Finn didn’t lack the social skills needed to be accepted by society, skills taught at dinner tables by reprimanding moms, they’d never flee their boring well-behaved towns to have the adventures readers crave. If loving moms didn’t sacrifice themselves to save their helpless babes, how would an orphan like Harry Potter, who was raised with little love, ever be compassionate enough to sacrifice himself for the greater good? That’s a lot of power to unintentionally give a group of people you don’t love.
Good writers do little by accident. If they remove the moms from their world, it’s not due to any lack of love or respect but quite the contrary. Literature illuminates the best and worst of reality. Only by seeing a fictional world without mothers can we grasp their real power. Writers know what the rest of us know (or should), that moms make the world a better place!
So take good care of the moms in your world today. Pamper them, make them dinner, let them sit back and relax. Just be careful of what book you bring them to curl up with. You wouldn’t want them getting the wrong idea.
Happy Mother’s Day to all, but especially to my mom, my sister-in-law (who’s a mom-to-be this year!), and all my friends celebrating with their little ones. You may be absent in my books, but you’re ever-present in my heart!