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Comparative Essay on Mother by Grace Paley and dear mother by Seitlhamo Motsapi

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Comparative Essay (IB Paper 1) ________________ Although Mother by Grace Paley and dear mother by Seitlhamo Motsapi are so structurally different, they both express a sense of longing and nostalgia through vivid imagery. The two texts both reveal the pain of their narrators, who wish to be reunited with their ?mother?. However, ?mother? in the two texts is used to represent two very different images. In Mother, author Grace Paley uses the word ?mother? in its literal sense, describing the emotions of a child as he/she remembers his/her dead mother. In the poem dear mother, the word ?mother? is used to represent the homeland of the narrator. It becomes apparent that the narrator has been exiled from his homeland, which he misses dearly. Paley and Motsapi used different literary forms to convey the longing of their narrators. Mother is a short story, written in prose. The tone is reflective but conversational. There is no clear storyline ? the narrator?s longing is instead conveyed through a series of fragmented flashbacks, which give the reader glimpses of the narrator?s estranged relationship with his/her mother. ...read more.


This distinction is partly rooted in the choice of structure employed by the two writers. Repetition is used in both texts to articulate the strong emotions experienced by the two narrators. In Paley?s Mother, the sentence ?Then she died.? is repeated twice, both times as a separate, single paragraph. This short, succinct sentence illustrates the permanent nature of the mother?s death. It is a cold, hard fact that the narrator will never see the mother ever again. The repetition of the sentence at the end of the text seems to reaffirm this reality. These three simple words fully express the acceptance, regret and longing of the narrator. In Motsapi?s poem dear mother, repetition is used many times to heighten the emotional impact of the poem. Phrases such as ?mother I lie awake at night? and ?& so I cry to you mother? are repeated between stanzas. This gives the poem a rhythmic quality and effectively illustrates the raw desperation of the narrator. Common themes such as ?night? and ?cry? also recur throughout the poem. ...read more.


The words ?distort? and ?lament? carry unique connotations that communicate the raw pain of the narrator, yearning to return to his homeland but unable to do so. Imagery is employed in different ways by the two writers. In Mother, descriptive imagery is used to evoke a more meaningful visual experience for the reader. In dear mother imagery takes the form of a fury of similes and metaphors, each one adding another layer of emotion to the text. They may appear completely different at first glance, but Mother and dear mother both seek to recreate the universal emotion of longing. Where Mother uses the relationship between mother and child to communicate this emotion, dear mother uses the intrinsic connection between a man and his homeland, personified as a ?mother?. Through their manipulation of language, we as readers can see that the two writers have interpreted ?longing? in different ways. This is reflected in the tone of the two texts. Mother is reflective and whimsical, while dear mother is intertwined with hate and sorrow. Joshua Lam ...read more.

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