Analysis of Article “The Estrangement” By Jamaica Kincaid

Table of Content

The Estrangement
A mother is such a complex figure to think about. Mothers are expected to be loving, caring, sweet, but also firm and disciplinary. As seen around the world, mothers share different values and beliefs on raising their children. Many believe that the way a mother cares for her child molds the child into a certain adult. In ways, mothers have a power over their children that, as kids, are hard for our brains to grasp. In the article, The Estrangement, written by Jamaica Kincaid, thoughts on her mother are revealed and accessible to analyze. She shares her story about her mother/daughter relationship and throughout her story, The Estrangement, shows an underlining argument of the reality of the biased views children have towards their mothers.

Jamaica Kincaid was born in 1949 in a hospital in Antigua. She moved to the United States at age 16 where she went to school at the New School for Social Research and Franconia College. Her jobs include being a staff writer for the New Yorker, teaching classes at various colleges and writing papers for The Rolling Stone, The Paris Review and other publications. The Estrangement was written in 2008 and appeared in an issue of AARP, a magazine about health and relationships.

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Jamaica Kincaid reveals in The Estrangement her complex relationship with her mother. In the short essay, Kincaid talks about past experiences with her mother. She reveals the last time she talked to her on the phone, three years before her death. She explains how other people thought of her mom as selfless and generous but none of these traits were ever showed to her as a child. After listing out all of these past experiences Kincaid then talks about herself as a mother. She recounts how, now as a mom, she, too, has her complex relationships with her children. The Estrangement is written using pathos and one can sense a slight bitter, resentment taste in the author’s voice. In The Estrangement, one gets the idea that Kincaid’s mother is a hard woman. Throughout the text Kincaid writes things such as, “She truly wished me dead,” and “Our mother said horrible things to us”. These texts support the idea that her mother could have been harsh but also supports the idea that Kincaid could have been a stubborn daughter. Being a child, one believes that their mother should be sweet and caring. As I grew up, I realized that my mother does care, but when she is harsh, there is a reason for it. My parents have said many hurtful things in the past. As a child, my biased opinion was that they really were just trying to be mean. I see now that they were just trying to open my eyes on a situation that my stubborn brain did not want to comprehend. Such a situation could be the same in the author’s life. Kincaid’s mother could have been harsh because her words fell on her child’s closed ears.

Some might say that there are parents that ARE mean. There are parents that abuse their children verbally and physically. From the texts, I did not jump to that conclusion in the author’s case. Kincaid’s brother is diagnosed with AIDS at age thirty three. His mother cared for him with the “greatest tenderness, a tenderness that was absent all the time before he was dying.” This use of texts shows that Kincaid believes that her mother lacked being tender to her children. She rebukes herself when she states “When we were children and in need of a mother’s love and care, there was no better mother to provide such an ideal entity.” This shows that in actuality, Kincaid’s mother was actually there for her children. The title of the article reiterates my point. The article is titled The Estrangement. Being estranged from someone is becoming a stranger. Strangers are not close to each other and are not connected emotionally. Kincaid was once connected with her mother, but has become a stranger. There is no feeling of love and no feeling of loss. When Kincaid found out that her mother had died all she felt was “shock”. I believe this feeling of estrangement was simply because Kincaid’s mother did not approve of her. “She could see through the thinness of our efforts, she could see through the emptiness of our aspirations.” This quote, I feel, truly reveals that Kincaid’s mother was not proud of her. All of the anger that the author feels toward her mother is because of this fact. That’s why Kincaid’s biased view towards her mother is so negative.

Mothers and daughters have difficult connections. Some have a friend type of relationship while others have a role model type of relationship. Families vary and the structure of families can be completely different. The Estrangement helped shed light on my own relationship with my mother. It showed me that the way children think towards their moms are usually biased and are not what the world sees. Reading this story helped me view past situations with my mother in an unbiased perspective. I saw that my stubbornness was the reason for many fights in my family. Sometimes, the problem is within rather than outside. Sometimes our biased view gets in the way of resolution and peace.

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Analysis of Article “The Estrangement” By Jamaica Kincaid. (2016, Aug 14). Retrieved from

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