In "My Mother's Blue Bowl" by Alice Walker, please explain how the symbol of the blue bowl relates to Walker's mother.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The symbol of the blue bowl relates to the author's mother in two ways. Firstly, the bowl is so precious to the author precisely because it was given to her by her mother before she had her stroke and began fading. Note what she says about this bowl and when it was given to her:

It was given to me by my mother in her last healthy days. The days before a massive stroke laid her low and left her almost speechless. Those days when to visit her was to be drawn into a serene cocoon of memories and present-day musings and to rest there, in temporary retreat from the rest of the world, as if still an infant, nodding and secure at her breast.

The bowl is thus related to her mother from the very start of this text, as it conjures up childhood reminiscences for the author and times when she felt protected and sheltered by her mother. This is clear from the ending of the text, when Walker reveals how when she and her siblings returned from school the blue bowl was always full of delicious warm food, symbolising her mother's love for them.

Secondly, the bowl is related to Walker's mother through the way that she began to get rid of all of her belongings in her old age. Walker therefore connects the blue bowl to the very important lesson that her mother teaches her: to let go of possessions "easily, without emphasis or regret." It is for these two reasons that the blue bowl is so powerfully connected with the figure of Walker's mother.