Mama describes herself as a heavyset, solid woman who has hands that can do a man's work. She says that she can "kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man." Her fat, she believes, keeps her warm even when it's very cold outside. She is quite strong and can work outside all day, bathe with ice water, and eat a pig's innards just minutes after they come out of the dead animal. Mama thinks of herself as being really tough, not overly sentimental, but she does "dream a dream" where her estranged daughter, Dee, learns to appreciate and love her instead of being embarrassed by and ashamed of her. Mama, however, is not quick or witty and she would never look a strange white man in the eye, and she seems to have much more in common with her other daughter, Maggie, than she does with Dee, the daughter who she sent away to school.