May 13, 2012

Fictional Moms: The Good, The Bad, and the Nonexistent

Me and my favorite non-fictional mom in 1984.
The other day on Twitter someone said something about their favorite fictional mothers. Which made me start racking my brain, to think of my own favorite fictional mom.

The first person who came to mind was Caroline Ingalls. She was hard working, dedicated, and intelligent. But, she was also quite racist -- almost every book mentions how much "Ma hates Indians", which bugs me. Also, although she was fictionalized, she was a real woman, which perhaps disqualifies her.

So then I started thinking about other fictional moms - and realized that the list of great moms in fiction is surprisingly small! Here's a random survey of the mom situation in kids' books I love.

  • Bertha Shirley died young, leaving poor Anne an orphan. But, Anne herself grew up to be a pretty great mom, so I guess she's a contender for best fictional mom.
  • Marmee was rather one dimensional, probably the least interesting character in the March family.
  • Lily Potter was killed, leaving Harry to the tender mercies of the Dursleys.
  • On the other hand, Sally Jackson did a good job of raising her demi-god son Percy by herself.
  • Katniss Everdeen's mom was basically unreliable.
  • Emily of New Moon was an orphan.
  • Kate "Puck" Connolly was another orphan. 
  • The Pevensey's mother was essentially a non-character. I seem to remember that when Susan gave up on Narnia she went to America with the parents, but other than that do they come into the books?
  • Constance Hopkins's mother was dead - but she had a lovely stepmother.
  • Ellen Creighton, the matriarch of the Creighton clan in Across Five Aprils was definitely a great mom. She kept going in the face of unimaginable tragedy, and took care of her children fiercely.
  • But on the other hand, Jess Aaron's mom was awful.
  • Mrs. Murry was distracted, but basically a good mom I think. At least, she churned out a whole brood of brilliant children - but maybe Meg and Charles Wallace and the twins owe that more to genetics than her mothering?
Happy Mother's Day! Who's your favorite fictional mother?