What I Learned from My Mother

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WhatI Learned from My Mother

WhatI Learned from My Mother

Whenchildren grow up, they acquire various kinds of skills, values, andknowledge from their immediate family members. Even though allmembers of a given society take an active role in educating youngones, mothers play a vital role, particularly in communicatingsocietal traditions and heritage to their daughters. Children are notrequired to attend any learning institutions to acquire practices inthe community they actively observe daily activities as theyinteract with their mothers. The tradition such as bereaving withother members of the community is one of the practices whichmother-figures engage in frequently. Mothers always show solidaritywith the mourning neighbors. For instance, it is a tradition in mostcommunities, to take fresh flowers and fruits salads to the neighborswho mourn their loved ones. Nonetheless, all these cultural practicesreveal huge irony as the poet admits that she attends viewing eventhough she doesn’t know the deceased (Preminger, Warnke &ampHardison, 2015). ‘In “’’ JuliaKasdorf demonstrates the impacts of traditions on people. Traditionsand heritage are ironical for example, a person sympathizes with themourners even though what she tells them does not mean anything.

Meaningof Stylistic Devices Used in the Poem

  1. Irony

  1. This is a poetic device in which a poet choice of words in a sentence contrasts their literal meaning. The persona contradicts her actions in the poem.

  2. There are several examples of irony in the poem. “I learned to attend the viewing even if I didn’t know the deceased’’ (lis 10-11) and “I learned to create from another’s suffering, my usefulness’’ (lis 18-19) show irony.

  1. Similes

  1. This is a literary device which involves drawing a parallel comparison between unmatched people or things. Similes add more value to a simple sentence.

  2. “I had the power to ease pain more materially like an angel’’ (lis 16-17) is a good example of a simile.

  1. Hyperbole

  1. Hyperbole is a stylistic device that enables the poet to exaggerate the meaning of a sentence or statements by using specific words or phrases. Hyperboles create unusual life effects in the poem and make the action more emotive.

  2. Hyperbole is used in the poem. “With peonies cut from the lawn, black ants still stuck to the bud’’ (lis 4-5) and “I learned to save jars large enough to hold fruit salads to serve the whole family” are examples of hyperboles.

Sometraditions control the lives of every member of a community strongly,even if the subsequent generation may not see any value to suchcultural practices. The poet exposes the importance the persona’smother shows towards the relatives of the dead (Preminger, Warnke &ampHardison, 2015). Through cultural activities, the persona formsstronger links with the living. According to the Julia Kasdorf, thepersona learns from her mother how to develop the cultural links. Thepersona is compassionate about these traditions. For instance, sheattends several funeral services in her neighborhood (Julia, 2017).In some cases, she does not know the deceased. However, thetraditions outweigh any other factors. Because her mother introducedher to it, the persona feels obliged to play a role in most funeralsin her community.

Thereis a big irony when she offers her traditional services to thebereaved families. As the persona consoles with the rest of themourners, her sympathy does not reflect genuine feeling she has tothe living. She says “I learned that whatever we say meansnothing’’ (li 15). Again, the poet reveals that the suffering ofother people may make another person useful. For example, the painwhich patients undergo makes a doctor an important person in thesociety. In the poem, she says “Create from another’s sufferingmy usefulness’’ (li 20). Similarly, the loss of loved onesthrough death makes the persona become an important person to thedeceased family (Julia, 2017). Both scenarios are ironical(Preminger, Warnke &amp Hardison, 2015). The poet gives her audiencecontrasting actions that in an actual sense do not portray love forthe living.

Personaalso learns to love the living from her mother. However, heraffection is exaggerated in the poem highly. When she volunteers totake flowers to the hospital, she explains the presence of black antson the flower bud. ‘’Black ants still stuck to the bud’’(line 4-5).The use of hyperbole as a stylistic device appears in herdescription of a vase she picks and gives the patient. Although it iswidely known that the flower cut from the lawn is fresh, the factthat black ants occupy the flower is greatly magnified. Again todemonstrate her compassion to the mourning neighbors, the personaexaggerates how she serves the bereaved families (Preminger, Warnke &ampHardison, 2015). “I learned to save jars large enough to holdfruits salads for the whole household’’ (lis 4-6). Yes, it isvital to provide every relative of the deceased with some foodhowever, it may not make sense if only the persona supplies thefruits.

Occasionally,the poet draws a parallel comparison which exists between the personaand other living creatures. “Like a doctor, I learned to create”(li 18). She compares the traditions performed in her community tothe role doctors play in hospitals while easing the pain of patients(Preminger, Warnke &amp Hardison, 2015). It is evident that thepersona actions towards the living match with the role of eitherdoctors or angels. She says “Powers to ease pain materially like anangel” (lis-16-17) to compare the actions of doctors and angels.The use of similes to draw a direct comparison between the personaand other people makes the audience appreciate the persona’s dutyin her society.

JuliaKasdorf brings various kinds of themes in her poem “What I learnedfrom my mother.” Some of the poet’s central ideas are love,compassion, values, and relationships. The traditions and heritagethat appear in the persona’s community are amusing. Individualslearn cultural practices and extend them to preceding generations.However, some people do not recognize the importance of the practiceseven though they execute the cultural traditions (Julia, 2017).Throughout the poem, Julia Kasdorf utilizes different kinds ofstylistic devices to make the poem interesting to her audience(Preminger, Warnke &amp Hardison, 2015). For example, the use ofirony, similes, and hyperbole among other literary devices createsemotive feelings in the entire poem. Nonetheless, the persona gainedvaluable practices from her mothers, which are significant to everyother person in her neighborhood.


Julia,Kasdorf. (2017). “What I Learned From My Mother.” PoetryFoundation.Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/48491

Preminger,A., Warnke, F. J., &amp Hardison Jr, O. B. (Eds.). (2015).&nbspPrincetonencyclopedia of

poetryand poetics.New Jersey: Princeton University Press.