The Slave Mother

While reading the poem “The Slave Mother” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper all I could feel is pain. Whenever, I tend to read I usually feel a connection with the writer so I can understand the story better. I could see the image of a mother having to let go of her child and that is so upsetting. To think that back then Mother’s had to let go of their children because they were slaves is absurd. Some of my best memories were with my mother, not only my appearance but my habits and personality is very much alike to my mother.

“Her boy clings to her side, /And in her kyrtle vainly tries /His trembling form to hide.” After discussing in class, I learned that a kyrtle is a big puffy skirt, in other words a barrier that usually to the little boy was a barrier from the real harsh world. It is ironic because back then slaves didn’t have any expensive skirts or puffy dresses, that was mainly for the rich white people. But I connected it to a saying we use often in Brazil which is “Já pra saia da sua mãe” which means you can already get out of your mother’s skirt. I was momma’s girl so I heard that say all the time. It was often used for children to go out in the real world and experience life on their own without the protection of their mothers. Most children feel safe and protected when their are with their mother without even having to hold on to their skirts.

“She is a mother, and her heart/ Is breaking in despair.” The image of a mother having to let go of their children is already depressing, but to think of the pain she had to go through during pregnancy and then forcedly getting her child taken away. That little boy never got to experience his mother’s love and he never got to even hide under his skirt when he was scared. Once they took him he was probably never going to be the same again and most likely never even see his mother. One thing that everyone deserves is to experience life with their family specially with their mother. Slavery was something so awful and narcissist that on top of all the terrible things they did to people who were human like them, they also separated them from their families. I’ll never fully be able to understand why in the world would people that is something rational to do.











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