In "My Mother's Blue Bowl" by Alice Walker, explain the symbol or importance of the blue bowl.

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The importance of this everyday object is highlighted at the very beginning of this text, when Walker states that it is the "most precious thing" that she owns. Its importance is revealed as the text continues, and in particular as the memories that Walker has of the bowl and how it relates to her relationship with her mother are discussed.

Firstly, the bowl symbolises the letting go of possessions. Walker asked for this bowl and was given it by her mother when her mother was aging, and beginning to give away the things that she no longer needed. Secondly, the bowl symbolises the vibrancy of her mother and the love that she had for all of her children. In a flashback, Walker remembers how she and her siblings used to return home from school in the winter, and how they were somewhat ashamed of their humble abode. However, when they opened the door, they were amazed by how their mother had made the inside of the house so warm and friendly. Always the blue bowl was placed on the table, full of delicious food:

The blue bowl stood there, seemingly full forever, no matter how deeply or rapaciously we dipped, as if it had no bottom. And she dipped up soup. Dipped up lima beans. Dipped up stew. Forked out potatoes. Spooned out rice and peas and corn. And in the light and warmth that was her, we dined.

The blue bowl, supposedly endlessly full, is therefore a symbol of the love that Walker's mother had for her children and how hard she worked so that they could live and enjoy life to the full, in spite of the hardships of the conditions they faced.