“What you do to Children Matters”: Motherhood in Toni Morrison's God Help the Child


  • Manuela López Ramírez University of Valencia (Spain)




Toni Morrison’s latest novel, God Help the Child, explores the damaging effects of racism on motherhood and the dramatic impact of toxic mothering upon children. The institution of patriarchal motherhood fails to enact the critical tasks of motherwork —preservation, nurturance and cultural bearing, while mothering is a potential site of empowerment of black children and African American culture. African American authoritarian parenting style, associated with patriarchal motherhood, has a correlation with diverse factors, such as the legacy of slavery and its survival strategies, low-income and/or single-parent households and the disruption of the motherline. Motherhood distorted by racism cannot develop a sense of black selfhood in children, thwarting their chances of survival, resistance and subversion of racist ideologies.

Keywords: African American, authoritarian parenting, passing for white, single, motherhood.


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How to Cite

López Ramírez, M. (2015). “What you do to Children Matters”: Motherhood in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child. The Grove - Working Papers on English Studies, 22. https://doi.org/10.17561/grove.v0i22.2700