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In addition, I will explore how intertextual references to his previous picture books reinforce or contradict the ideology of motherhood in his works.
While Browne makes use of child narrators and focalizers whose view of their mothers is limited, some of his pictures books contain illustrations that further explore the mother’s psyche and move beyond the child’s point of view.
The motto supports this normative impulse: the book is dedicated to a “fantastic mum” (Browne’s mother) and a “wonderful mother” (his wife Jane).
Douglas and Michaels draw attention to the ideology of motherhood implied in the word “mom”: “‘Mom’—a term previously used only by children—doesn’t have the authority of ‘mother,’ because it addresses us from a child’s point of view” ( is certainly arguable, it is clear in this book that the first-person narrator, a child, is addressing the mother in her more cozy demeanor as “mum,” a perspective Douglas and Michaels claim is ideologically laden: “‘mom’ means you’re good and nurturing” ( cast the mother in a domestic role, carrying huge bags of groceries, juggling her household tasks, baking a variety of cakes, and gardening—all done with a big smile.
In some books, mothers are simply present at home and taken for granted, while often initiating the child characters’ adventure by dispatching them to play outside, as in ), the story focuses on the relationship between the mother and the rest of the family.
“Nowhere is the playfulness of Browne’s work more striking than in his representation of gender,” writes Clare Bradford (, p. Does that same playfulness apply to his representations of femininity and fictional mothers?
In that case, the mother becomes an explicitly intended reader of the book.
Browne’s work stretches over several decades, in which ideals of motherhood have been widely debated and have also evolved.
She focuses on the use of narratological perspective, visual point of view, and intertextual references to explain how an ideology of motherhood is evoked.are more artistically complex and open-ended in their possible interpretations of the mother’s psyche.In all four books, Browne’s mothers, especially in comparison to his fathers, are depicted with more responsibilities: the families rely on the mother’s presence and care for their coherence and emotional well-being.When the mother in , or subjunctive, mode: “My mum could be a dancer, or an astronaut. But she’s MY mum.” The tentative mode of the verbs in the first sentence, contrasted with the factual present tense of the last, implies that the protagonist’s mother is none of the latter and leaves open whether she actually has a life of her own.
A comparison with at one point, but only to mark one event that is impossible and one that is very unlikely: “He could wrestle with giants, or win the fathers’ race on sports day, easily.” The comparison suggests that the mother having an interesting job is just as improbable as the existence of giants. She is depicted in an oversized armchair that is obviously too big for her, and the slippers that she is wearing and the hearts on her tie and in the background all work together to suggest that her mind is with her family rather than with her professional activities.The image suggests an obvious mismatch between the person and the job.