illustrated portrait of African American author Alice Walker

Alice Walker

Start Free Trial

In "My Mother's Blue Bowl" by Alice Walker, what is the general tone of the text?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the text, the tone is both introspective and nostalgic. In literature,tone denotes the author's attitude towards his/her subject or central theme. The main theme of this story is the precious legacy a mother leaves her daughter.

In reminiscing about her mother, the author is grateful for the legacy...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In the text, the tone is both introspective and nostalgic. In literature,
tone denotes the author's attitude towards his/her subject or central theme. The main theme of this story is the precious legacy a mother leaves her daughter.

In reminiscing about her mother, the author is grateful for the legacy of powerful values that is her birthright. The blue bowl is an important symbol in the story; it is a testament to one woman's warmth, love, and generosity towards her family.

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 author remembers that, even though her family was poor, the blue bowl always symbolized security and abundance. In life, her mother's material needs had been few; in fact, her main focus 'in her last healthy days' was to aim towards 'divestiture, lightening her load, permitting her worldly possessions to dwindle in significance and, well before she herself would turn to spirit...' However, the author recalls that the ease with which her mother had bequeathed her the bowl had been symbolic.

She had taught me a lesson about letting go of possessions—easily, without emphasis or regret—and she had given me a symbol of what she herself represented in my life.

In one of her last actions on earth, the mother has bequeathed both abundant love and hope as lasting gifts to her daughter.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team