This essay examines two contrasting models of motherhood in Paloma Díaz-Mas’s short story "La niña sin alas" (1996). In this futuristic story, human beings have evolved wings, and those who are born without them or lose them are considered mutilated humans. The story appears to be divided in two parts. In the first, the protagonist gives birth to a handicapped (wingless) daughter, then opts to give up her own perfectly functional wings in order to nurture the child, compromising her marriage, giving up her job and abandoning any hope of social connections. When the child begins to grow wings around the age of two, the mother first tries to inhibit their growth by tightly bandaging the child’s back, then bites them, supposedly so as to keep her daughter exclusively dependent on her. After reviewing mother archetypes and stereotypes in modern and contemporary Spanish literature, this essay examines the story’s ambivalence towards what appear to be two extreme types of motherhood: the mother who is willing to sacrifice her wellbeing, her independence and her place in the community in order to protect her handicapped child, and the castrating mother willing to mutilate her daughter to keep the girl from any chance of an independent future. The essay engages Kristeva’s theorization of the mother-child relationship as well as Adrienne Rich’s evocative reflections on the mother-daughter bond.

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