Book Mother to Mother Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Mother to Mother by Sindiwe Magona. Specifically, it will critically analyze the book. The book "Mother to Mother" is a touching and elegant story of race relations and misunderstanding in South Africa. The author bases her book on a true incident, but looks at it from the eyes of a mother who loves her son but recognizes his inadequacies. It is a devastating look at apartheid, violence, and anger in a society long split between black and white. Well-written with emotion and pathos, it is a book that discovers the difficulties of reconciliation and continuing with life after the death of a loved one.

This emotional book looks at both sides of a young white woman's murder in a black township in South Africa. The book begins with the haunting line "My son killed your daughter" (Magona 1), and that line grabs the reader from the beginning, and makes them want to learn more about the two families and their responsibilities to themselves, and the their community. The book covers only two days chronologically, but the author skillfully uses flashbacks to look back on her life and the life of her son, to illustrate the hatred and violence at work in South African society that created such a "monster" as her son and the other killers. The mother is not unaware that her child has turned into something she cannot control, but she is also aware that the lifestyle of poor blacks in a dominant white society has been the spark that created the fire under the murderers. Coming from a life without hope, how can they see anything else for themselves?

The fictional mother understands the white family's grief, but she is also strong enough to stand up and place part of the blame on their daughter, who walked straight into a deadly situation. She chides the couple, "Yes, the more I think about this the more convinced I am that your daughter must have been the type of person who has absolutely no sense of danger when she believes in what she is doing" (Magona 2). This is a difficult position for any mother to take, but in recognizing the truth of the matter, she is not only healing herself, she is standing up to the white family and saying that their daughter was a responsible adult. Clearly, she should have known the dangers of what she was doing, rather than looking at her situation only idealistically.

Mandisa, the mother in the story, does not make excuses for her son, she knows his act was reprehensible, but she does understand his young life has been filled with despair, betrayal, and difficulty. She notes, "Understand the people among whom he has lived all his life. Nothing my son does surprises me any more. Not after that first unbelievable shock, his implanting himself inside me; unreasonably and totally destroying the me I was. The me I would have become" (Magona). Mandisa gave birth to her son when she was only fifteen, and it changed her life, just as it would change the young white girl's life eventually. In an interview about the book, author Magona elaborates:

It is a well-known fact that children of children are at high risk of not finishing school. Mandisa is a perfect example of the success of apartheid -- she is the…

Sources Used in Documents:


Editors. "Magona Gives Voice to a Forgotten Mother." 2000. 16 April 2004.

Gray, Rosemary. "An Electronic Interview with Sindiwe Magona." English in Africa. 1 May 2002.

Harlow, Barbara. "Book Review." Race and Class. 1 Jan. 2000.

Magona, Sindiwe. Mother to Mother. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.

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