The differentiation between the experience of mothering and the institution of motherhood by Adrienne Rich changes the way that maternity is conceived. Viewing motherhood as a socially constructed, historically and culturally specific relationship direct our attention to the issues of gender, class, and ethnicity in mothering. This article contemplates on mothering/motherhood across cultures by exploring the mother images in Big Breasts and Wide Hips (Yan Mo), White Teeth (Zadie Smith), and The Kitchen God's Wife (Amy Tan), written by a Chinese, a British, and an Asian American writer, respectively. These novels critique the motherhood discourses that idealize mothers or marginalize nonwhite/working-class mothering. A comparative study of the novels indicates that cultivating an awareness that motherhood is a social and cultural, rather than biological inscription, is central to female agency, and that a mothering consciousness aligned against patriarchy and colonialism is essential for female empowerment.

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