Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gwendolyn Brooks

the mother:

The poem starts off with "Abortions will not let you forget". This strong opening hits you, it's a direct confrontation, and there is no misunderstanding of the message that can be lost to interpretation. My first reaction to the poem was of a deep compassion for these "lost children". The speaker made the right choice at the time for her situation, but "even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate". It is not regretful, but it is remorseful. There is also certainly no lack of love in this decision (to go through with the abortions): "Believe me, I loved you all./Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I love, I loved you/All." Perhaps the act of terminating the life was the act of love: if the child was born, he or she would have "cried" and eventually "died". The speaker is preventing the child from experiencing the later inevitable tragedies of life.

I forgot exactly who said it, but it was about the nature of freedom: "Freedom is self-control". Whether this means self-control like independence from former slavery, or the freedom of self-discipline and self-restraint, both ideas work when referring to my idea about a woman's right to choose regarding women's rights.

After reading Alice Walker's "In Search of My Mother's Gardens", I found that Brooks' speaker is also bemoaning the fact that she has prevented her children, not only from living, but from creating art and becoming artists. The long-standing tradition that Walker writes in her essay, that 'Women have been prevented from becoming artists by the Male Tradition', is sort of what Brooks is now participating in. The Roe v Wade decision that allows women the choice and control over their bodies, reveals the fact that women now have a harsh responsibility over other people's and their own lives. Brooks and other women, must now face the consequences of being able to control themselves, something that was once left to men to decide. Alice Walker was regretful about her mother's inability to be recognized as an artist, and the roles have switched now: Brooks is the one who is preventing her child from being recognized as an artist, she is taking the traditionally male role of supressing someone else's voice and being. This is an important role-reversal, and it's one that comes at the cost of someone else's liberty. Perhaps Freedom is self-control, but also being in a power position over a lesser being--freedom is controlling others!????

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