Life of Ma Parker Essay

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Pages: 7

Katherine Mansfield's "Life of Ma Parker": Women's Plight Katherine Mansfield's "Life of Ma Parker" presents the plight of Ma Parker as a working-class woman at the turn of the century, in terms of her position in the sphere of the family and in the sphere of society. "Life of Ma Parker" is a story of a widowed charwoman. Like Miss Brill, Ma Parker is a very lonely woman, but their equally painful story is told quite differently, mainly because Mansfield supplies no background to account why Miss Brill's Sunday passes as it does. As the title of the story denotes, we receive the story of Ma Parker's life, which explains her current situation. "As servant, wife, and mother, she's the generic British …show more content…
She does not have the privilege of breaking down and actually feeling her pain. "Mother, virgin, prostitute: these are the social roles imposed on women" (Irigaray 186). As Ma's children are grown she is left alone and is "robbed" of her social role as an active mother. She has no place in the patriarchal society therefore unless she assumes a role to play. Ma Parker feels emptiness as a result therefore until Lennie is born and she takes on the role of his mother. According to Susan Lohafer, the relationship between Ma Parker and Lennie is "at the core of the story – the coy and tender interaction between a child and a mothering grandparent" (477). Lennie "was gran's boy from the first" (Mansfield 146). He was "the focus of all her love, all her joy, all her hope" (Lohafer 480). When Lennie gets sick, Ma feels herself guilty for not being able to do anything to help him and as if responsible for his sickness although she tells Lennie, "[i]t's not your poor old gran's doing, my lovely" (Mansfield 148). But Lennie "bent his head and looked at her sideways as though he couldn't have believed it of his gran" (149). Lennie's death devastates Ma, for now she realizes her true loneliness. The love of her life now gone, she also loses her role as a mothering grandparent. She loses her identity.