Refugee Mother And Child Chinua Achebe Essay

No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours

of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –

singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she

did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.

________________________________

Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013) is one of Nigeria and Africa’s most recognised and decorated writers. He is more renown for his novels and essays. He came to limelight as a poet with the publication of her book, Beware Soul Brother and other poems (1971), published in America as Christmas in Biafra and other poems (1971). The volume was joint-winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1972. Chinua Achebe continues to be an inspiration to several people around the world.

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Analysis Of Refugee Mother And Child

The title of the poem gives off the initial impression that the poem may focus on refugees: one who flees to seek refuge, The lives of refugee children, their parents, their feelings, their emotions and their pain. 'For a son she soon would have to forget'. This foreshadows the idea that her son is dying, and she would have to forget him to adapt to her tragic loss. 2 The metaphor in the fist stanza, 'No Madonna and Child could touch that picture...', relates to the idea of Mary and her child, Jesus. The picture perfect image - the ideal image of motherhood. The picture of a beautiful, serene mother with her holy new born child. Realistically the scene would have been far from that idea of bliss. The idea of the first stanza is that the tenderness that the character, the mother, expresses towards her child in the poem surpasses the ideal image of Mary and Jesus. The two situations do not even compare to the depth of love and tenderness of the Refugee Mother and Child. 3 The poet uses the repetition and the contrasting ideas of the word 'washed' in describing the emaciated state of the refugee children. 'Unwashed...' - the hygienic state, 'and 'Washed-out...' the physical state of the children due to the lack of food. 4 'Blown empty bellies', the physical appearance of the children's stomachs because of the limited food supply of only carbohydrates. From this unhealthy diet the combination of acids and gases blow out the stomach of the children. This vivid description could also possibly be a pun to the blowflies in Africa. 5 'A ghost smile', this metaphor could possibly be two ideas: The mother is happy because she is with her son, you can tell she is happy but her smile is faint, hard to notice. Her happiness can't easily be seen, her smile is not shown in a physical appearance, it holds happiness that gives off its emotion in a feeling which can't quite be explained, but can be felt by others. This metaphor shows how the mother keeps a fake, or 'ghost' smile on her lips for her child's sake -...

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