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Somebody’s Mother – Mary Dow Brine

It was a winter evening. An old woman was waiting to cross a busy road near a school. She was a lone woman although she was very old. Suddenly children came out of the school as it closed for the day. They passed the lonely old woman but none paid any attention to the old lady. It so happened that one of the boys, very cheerful and lively, saw this lady waiting to cross the road. He ran to her and helped her cross the road. Later he explained to his friends that one day his own mother could be in a similar situation and that someone else would help her. At home that night, the old lady prayed for the boy who had helped her cross the road. Her heart was overflowing with gratitude and pride. She prayed, “God, be kind to him, somebody’s son!”

Stanza 1

The woman was old and ragged and gray
And bent with the chill of the Winter’s day.
The street was wet with a recent snow

And the woman’s feet were aged and slow.

Meaning

  • Ragged –  (Clothes) Tattered; torn; ripped; frayed; worn out; worn to shreds; threadbare; patched; scruffy; shabby
  • Gray – Aged
  • Bent with the chill of the Winter’s day – The winter cold was so extreme to bear that the old woman was bent down.

Questions & Answers

How do you describe the old woman?
The woman was very old and poor. Her clothes were in very bad condition. She had gone grey with age. The chill of the winter was extremely high that the woman had to bend herself down to feel warm. Besides, due to ageing, she walked with slow steps as her feet were slow and unsteady.

How cold was the winter?
The winter was so much cold that even at noon chill was very high and the snow had not melted away by noon.

The woman was herself aged yet the poet says, “the woman’s feet were aged.” What is the difference?
By saying that the woman’s feet were aged, the poet calls our attention to her inability to walk.

What would you do if you spot an aged man/woman struggling to cross a busy road when you are yourself busy?
I would no doubt help the aged person cross the road. If i am too busy and my errand is more important than helping him/her cross the road, I will ask someone to provide help.

Stanza 2

She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng
Of human beings who passed her by
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eyes.

Meaning

  • Crossing – Traffic crossing
  • Uncared for – No one to care for
  • Amid – In the midst of
  • Throng – Crowd
  • Heeded – Noticed
  • Glance – Caring look
  • Anxious eyes – Worried look

Questions & Answers

Why did the old woman wait long?
The old woman waited for long to cross the road because she was too old and helpless to cross the road by herself. Besides, the people that passed by were mostly unfeeling and uncaring.

How does the poet satirize human beings in this stanza?
The poet is exposing the cold-hardheartedness of human beings. It was a shame for humanity that everyone was too busy to help an old woman. The woman deserved pity by all means but people’s insensitivity made her to wait on that roadside.

Next – Stanza 3

Comments

    • The woman thought that the boy was someone’s pride and and joy because he was such a sweat child. He was in such a way brought up by his parents that any mother would be proud to have a son like him. While every other boy was either shy about helping an aged woman (what if it were a charming young girl?) or not concerned, ‘this somebody’s son’ came forward to help a stranger old woman out. Thus, the old lady had all the reasons to believe that he was the pride of his mother!

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