Top Three Coolest Literary Moms
In honor of mother’s day, I’ve listed the top three coolest moms featured in children’s books. While there are horrible mothers found in books - most notably that lascivious, murderous wretch in “Flowers in the Attic” who kept her children in the attic and fed them poisoned powdered donuts (!) - the moms below may not be as memorable but are actually incredibly inspirational.
1. Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
While the memory of Lily Potter is what stands out for most as the ultimate testament of a mother’s love, it is Molly Weasley who I will bequeath the title of coolest mom in the Harry Potter series. Molly Weasley was the linchpin of her motley crew of ginger wizards. We all know that without Molly, the Weasleys wouldn’t be able to eat, maintain an orderly household, and even find tuition to send the kids to Hogwarts. What stands out for me, though, as the definitive reason for why Molly is badass is the way she slays Bellatrix in the final Harry Potter book. Gone is the normally placid demeanour. Out comes this, like, wickedly fierce sorceress who furiously calls Bellatrix a bitch while engaging in a wand-battle. And, because Molly has love and not hatred on her side, Bellatrix was soon a goner. (As an aside, themes of maternal love abound in Harry Potter. Haven’t you noticed this? Love is redemptive. Even Narcissa Malfloy betrayed the Dark Lord to save Draco).
2. Marmie (Little Women)
Marmie, marmie, marmie. I love marmie. Little Women was one of my favoritest books as a child. I read it over and over and over, and though I fixated on the Jo/Laurie tension and my hatred of Amy each time, I also derived much satisfaction from reading the words of wisdom Marmie dispensed. Marmie knew that Meg’s attempts at infiltrating high society was silly and superficial, that buying limes and being obsessed with such trends was a waste of time and money, and that it is always a good idea to cultivate cordial relationships with everyone, even the most beastly types (coughcoughAuntMarchcoughcough). Also, Marmie was able to run a household with scarce resources while her husband was away fighting a war. Marmie was a moral arbiter and an upstanding feminist foremother. If she was alive today, I see her being someone like Hilary Clinton or Madeline Albright since she has such a firm belief in her own convictions!
3. An-Mei Hsu’s mother (Joy Luck Club)
I know the Joy Luck Club isn’t technically a children’s book but I read it in grade four so I think it should count. In any case, the story that stood out for me the most was An-Mei Hsu’s mom, whose harrowing tale involved her being forced to become the third (or is it the fourth) wife of a rich man after being sexually assaulted. Despite being ostracized by her family and being disowned by her mother, she still went back to her village in an attempt to save her mother’s life by cutting chunks of her arm into a homemade soup, which myth says will create healing powers. Later, to ensure that her son and daughter’s standing in her household is assured, she kills herself by methodically eatingcookies laced with opium. An-Mei’s stepfather’s family is thus forced to treat her and her brother well lest An-Mei’s mother haunts them. (That’s her daughter pictured on top claiming her rightful place within the family during her mother’s funeral). While I would never claim that self-mutilation and suicide is a sign of being a badass, reading this story at a young age gave me the lasting impression of how some people, despite facing seemingly insurmountable situations, have the agency to alter the trajectory of their lives (or at least, the lives of their loved ones).
I already knew Harry Potter was problematic but never thought of how JK Rowling misappropriates cultural/religious figures
ETA: please give proper credit if you cite this or any of meta, cos this stuff takes time and effort y’all.
So yesterday when I made this post, many people wanted to know why Voldermort’a pet snake being named ‘Nagini’ was racially problematic. I was surprised that people hadn’t considered this, but then again desi issues/culture are hardly visible in mainstream media. But today I kept getting anons either professing complete shock about Naagini’s* significance, OR telling me that my interpretations were wrong. So I decided to write this meta on Naagini, the HP verse and mythological snake symbols. But first I’m gonna give some you some backstory about why Naagini bothers me so much and how Rowling seems to have missed out on some cultural context.
One of my favourite stories as a child was the one about Buddha and Mucalinda, the Snake King. Shortly after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is travelling through a forest when he gets caught in a terrible storm. The great serpent, Mucalinda, shelters the Buddha by spreading it’s vast seven-headed hood over him, and permitting the Buddha to sit on his coils. Many statues depicting this scene are found throughout Sri Lanka. There was one at the junction close to my school that I would always stare at. The sight of the Buddha serenely meditating under the protection of a huge and powerful cobra is a striking one that captured my imagination as a child. Years later, I’m still moved on a deep, wordless level by this image.
I am afraid that my dissertation is morphing into baby Voldemort
In a previous post, I compared my dissertation to a baby whose life I needed to tend to before I can move on to the Next Chapter of My Life ™. As I frantically survey the chapters I’ve written for my dissertation, I am beginning to fear that my dissertation is not in a healthy state. No, I don’t mean that my dissertation is at risk of dying. Like a persistent parasite, my dissertation has consumed too much of my soul to perish. On the contrary, what I am actually afraid of is that my dissertation may end up being a bloated monstrosity that brings nothing good to the world. In the eyes of my supervisor and my committee members, my dissertation may very well be the thing that ‘shall not be named.’ In short, I suspect that in its current state, my dissertation is Baby Voldemort:
What gives me some comfort is the fact that I can still rescue my dissertation. Baby Voldemort, after all, was originally Tom Riddle. Though I don’t want to get into the intricacies of the nature versus nurture debate, I harbor hope that with enough love and attention, my dissertation won’t have to tread down the path of uselessness. Maybe, just maybe, I have enough fortitude to will my dissertation into morphing into Baby Harry Potter instead.
As Harry Potter fans know all too well, Harry Potter’s journey from being a sad orphan to the vanquisher of evil shows that love can overcome even the most debilitating circumstances. I suspect that if Tom Riddle received even a modicum of affection while growing up, he would have avoided cavorting with snakes, cutting off his nose, splitting his soul into a gazillion horcruxes, and embarking on a depraved affair with Mistress of Mean Bellatrix LeStrange.
Of course, now that I write this, I fear that turning my dissertation into Baby Harry Potter may mean that I, as my dissertation’s sole parent, may risk being killed in the act of protecting its interests. Eek. I just scared myself. I really shouldn’t think about death while dissertating at 3 am.