Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 7 July 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Breaking the Good Mother Myths -
A Study of the Novels of Amy Tan

Sushil Mary Mathews, Ph.D.

Myths of the Perfect Mother

"The loss of the daughter to the mother, the mother to the daughter, is the essential female tragedy," (237) writes Adrienne Rich in Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976). Paula Caplan, in The New Don't Blame Mother: Mending the Mother-Daughter Relationship (2001), speaks of the dangerous myths about mothers that have pervaded the culture and created or aggravated many of the problems between mothers and daughters.

The myths of the perfect mother give rise to impossible expectations and set mothers up for failure. These included the myth of the imperfect female body, the myth of the ideal mother and the myth that working mothers are not good for their children. These myths of mothers and their relationships with their daughters are rooted in mid- nineteenth century and this continued in psychoanalytical theories on child rearing which gave rise to the child expert in the 1950s. Most of these myths have been constructed in a patriarchal society and are responsible for destroying women's self respect and respect between mothers and daughters.

Three Myths

There are three myths that stand out. The first popular myth is the story of Oedipus and Jocasta. The second widespread myth is that of Electra, daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon and sister of Iphigenia and Orestes. The third, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (acclaimed to have been composed in the sixth or seventh century) is the oldest known version of the mother-daughter myth of Demeter and Persephone.

The mother-daughter relationship which has an emotionally charged content can be explored by examining conflict and how this is resolved. The conflict is constructive and the daughter gets a safe training ground for independent living. It also explores the damaged sense of self experienced in the mother-daughter relationship within a patriarchal culture.

Malinowski in his Myth in Primitive Psychology (1974), states that myth, "vouches for the efficacy of ritual and contains practical rules for the guidance of man. Myth is thus a vital ingredient of human civilization;" (101) Joseph Dorairaj in his book Myth and Literature (2003),talks about demythologization and states that it is "a literary enterprise that aims at endowing a literary artifact with a contemporary dimension, i.e., relevance and applicability to the present."(94-95). He further opines "Demythologization, which aims at decontextualizing a classical myth and subsequently recontextualizing it in a given context taking into consideration the given horizon of inquiry, is fraught with wide ramifications"(141).

The Goal of This Study

This study attempts a study of the movement of the daughter towards the mother, after a brief estrangement. The mothers who had migrated to America tried to dictate terms and bring up their daughters in the strict cultural and familial traditions that they had learnt in China. The daughters who were born in a different country saw the easy lifestyle around and rebelled against their mothers. The daughters who were born in America have many models of motherhood around them and they compare their mothers with their American counterparts. They set for their mothers certain criteria which they feel would help them assess their mothers and they concluded that their mothers had fallen short and did not belong to the category of the good mother. The daughters did not comprehend that these ideals were just myths and the love of a mother was beyond all comparison and judgment.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

EAT Expressions in Manipuri | Learning from Movies - 'Slumdog Millionaire' and Language Awareness | Maternal Interaction and Verbal Input in Normal and Hearing Impaired Children | Role of L2 Motivation and the Performance of Intermediate Students in the English (L2) Exams in Pakistan | Problems in Ph.D. English Degree Programme in Pakistan - The Issue of Quality Assurance | Using Technology in the English Language Classroom | Teaching Literature through Language - Some Considerations | e-Learning of Japanese Pictography - Some Perspectives | Is It a Language Worth Researching? Ethnographic Challenges in the Study of Pahari Language | Using a Reading Material for Interactive Reading | Importance of Task-Based Teaching in Second Language Acquisition - A Review | Skill Enhancement Techniques - The Necessary Tools for the Indian Management Students | African American Literature and Ishmael Reed's Novels - Hoodism | Instances of Code Switching in Indian Television Serials | The Role of Compounding in Technical English Prescribed for Engineering Students in Tamilnadu | Polite Request Strategies as Produced by Yemeni EFL Learners | Manju Kapoor's Difficult Daughters - A Saga of Feminist Autonomy and Separate Identity | Reflections on Partition Literature - A Comparative Analysis of Ice Candy Man and Train to Pakistan | Mother Tongue! The Neglected Resource for English Language Teaching And Learning | Breaking the Good Mother Myths - A Study of the Novels of Amy Tan | Effect of Teachers' Academic Qualification on Students' L2 Performance at the Secondary Level | What Is Most Important? Fluency or Accuracy? Is Learning a Second Language a Conscious Process? | Let Us Learn from Our Standard 1 Textbook, Again! - A Brief Note on the New Standard 1 Tamil Textbook in Tamilnadu | Eugene O' Neill's The Hairy Ape - An American Expressionistic Play | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JULY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of July 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Sushil Mary Mathews, Ph.D.
Department of English
PSGR Krishnammal College for Women
Tamilnadu, India
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