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Celebrate Mother’s Day with Memorable Moms from Literature

Augustine of Hippo and his mother Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858) From WikiCommons

Augustine of Hippo and his mother Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858) (WikiCommons)

By Gerald Dierkes

Mrs. Hopewell in Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”; Sethe in Toni Morrison’s Beloved; Suyuan Woo, Lindo Jong, An-mei Hsu, and Ying-ying St. Clair in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club: literature provides countless examples of this family member who fills such a crucial role in our lives.

From the classics—Gertrude in Hamlet—to the contemporary—Mrs. Iselin in Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidatesome literary mothers offer unflattering illustrations. The Bible, however, presents positive role models. Jochebed made her heartrending choice to save her baby Moses’ life. St. Anne shared an uncommon bond with her daughter, Mary the mother of Jesus.

And our University’s patron saint, Augustine, had an exceptional mother: St. Monica. Her faith and her persistent dedication to her son convey a profound influence, as described in Augustine’s Confessions.


Has a mother from literature influenced you? Do you find any literary mothers particularly memorable? Please contribute your suggestions in our comments section.


""Gerald Dierkes is Access & Collections Coordinator, Stacks Maintenance, at Falvey Memorial Library. This blog was originally published May 10, 2013.

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Last Modified: May 8, 2021

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