In Salvage the Bones, how does Esch develop her ideas of motherhood? How do these ideas evolve during the course of the novel? What role does the memory of Mama play? China?

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In Salvage the Bones Esch develops her ideas on motherhood from memories of her own mother and from watching China with her puppies.  In the first chapter of the novel, the reader learns that Esch's mother died shortly after birthing the youngest of the family's four children.  Esch was...

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In Salvage the BonesEsch develops her ideas on motherhood from memories of her own mother and from watching China with her puppies.  In the first chapter of the novel, the reader learns that Esch's mother died shortly after birthing the youngest of the family's four children.  Esch was only 8-years-old when her mother died, so she was powerless to help.  From this experience, Esch learns that motherhood is hard and sacrificial--when in Chapter 3 Esch learns that she herself is pregnant, all she thinks about is how sick her condition is making her.  But along the way, Esch watches China care for her puppies:  at times China is loving and protective, and at others she dismisses pups that instinctively she knows will not live.  So Esch learns that motherhood can be loving and affectionate even though it is hard.  By the end of the novel, Esch has made peace with her pregnancy, especially after her family and friends agree to serve as father-figures for the baby and as support for Esch.

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