Refugee Mother and Child Summary & Main Idea


Chinua Achebe’s poem “Refugee Mother and Child” depicts the squalor and malnutrition of displaced people. The poem is about a displaced woman and her kid who are trapped in the arms of necessity. In the end, her kid dies, and as a mother, she is depressed, sad, and vulnerable. Achebe included love, lament, religion, confidence, endurance, reminiscences, anguish, and transformation into the lives of the outcasts’ mother and child in the poem. Chinua Achebe wrote “Refugee Mother and Child” in response to his own experience growing up in poverty among underprivileged children and being inspired by their psychological qualities. Throughout the poem, Achebe leads readers to an understanding of their mother’s sensitive affection. Throughout the poem, Achebe leads readers to an understanding of their mother’s sensitive affection.

In 1967, a civil war erupted in Nigeria when the Catholic-ruled area of Biafra sought independence from the Moslem-dominated central state. During those critical years, Achebe served as a minister for the Biafran government.

The Biafrans suffered greatly throughout the conflict, and famine was widespread. The writer’s direct experience with the suffering and conflict prompted him to create “Displaced Person Mother and Child.”


It is a refugee camp somewhere in Africa. The poet gives us a sensible picture of a mother and her youngster. Several needy individuals are tossed out of their homes because of political unsettling influences or normal catastrophes. The displaced people are in a hopeless condition. The poem starts with the poet comparing the scene of a mother holding her son in a refugee camp with the love and care which is usually depicted in all versions of Mary holding a ding Jesus in her arms.

The poet states that none of the reputed depictions of tenderness could even come near the fragility and beauty of this scene of pathos and heartbreak. There are multitudinous mothers and kids in the same hopeless condition in the exile camp. Their youngsters are gradually biting the dust of neediness and illnesses. Be that as it may, the poet attracts our consideration regarding a specific mother and her kid.

They are compared with St. Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms. Madonna cherishes her youngster since Jesus is the guardian angel of humankind and the child of God. The world venerates her and her child. Compared with this, the artist presents a poor conventional, obscure mother and child. The next four lines describe the aura of disease, illness and death which surrounds the camp; describing the smells of the camp, and the ribs of the children protruding from sickness, painting a truly horrifying picture of sick infants and helpless people.

The mother knows her child is gradually dying. It is of no utilization looking after him. Different mothers in the camp know this fact about their youngsters thus they are indiscreet about their diminishing kids. They would prefer not to additionally squander their chance and vitality and love for the withering kids. It is purposeless for them. So they are latent. The air was substantial with smells of loose bowels of unwashed youngsters. However, this mother is altogether different. She is the panorama of parenthood. She adores her kid. Her affection for him is boundless and divine.

She doesn’t need anything as an end result of her affection and forfeit. She brushes his filthy hair left on the skull of his head. She painstakingly parts the hair as though she were setting him up for his school toward the beginning of the day. She is completing a ton of work including kissing his temple. It was a demonstration of placing blooms in his little pine box the last love of a mother to her child.

The writer utilizes the words ‘ghost’ and ‘rust’ as illustrations of death. The mother continues grinning while at the same time brushing his hair since she realizes that soon the child will pass on. While conveying baby Jesus in her arms, St. Mary, too, knows well that her child will be nailed to the cross for the advantage of humankind. Subsequently, he would turn into the Hero of humanity.

Yet, the refugee mother can’t be pleased with any such accomplishment of her poor child. His demise is definitely not an issue for the world. However, her maternal love for her youngster outperforms even her affection for Madonna for her baby Jesus. The evacuee mother can’t expect anything as an end result of her forfeit and maternal love for her poor debilitated youngster. Still her adoration and watch over him till his final gasp. The examination of Madonna and Baby Jesus serves to elevate the passionate interest of the ballad. Straightforward and coordinated, the poem “Refugee Mother and Child” contacts our hearts with adoration and empathy and improves the pride of parenthood.

The Themes of the Poem


The central topic of this poetry is maternal love. “Love never gets lost, it’s just retained,” says one saying that applies to the poetry. This adage says that love is an emotion that can never be eradicated. This proverb is related to the poem’s mother-child bond. Even though the kid has died, the mother will always adore her child. A mother’s love is the most powerful love in any condition. This proverb can also be related to the saying “Love is a pain killer.” No matter what, a mother will travel to hell and back for her children.


Another subject in this poetry is a struggle. “A unified family eats from the same dish,” according to a proverb related to Achebe’s poetry. This adage says that no matter what, the family should always be taken care of: even if the family is struggling and does not know when the next meal will come. The truth is that family is family, and no one should be left behind. This proverb is connected to the poetry about hardship. For example, when it says in the poem, “struggling in strained steps behind blown empty tummies,” it refers to how hungry.  This is relevant because if one person goes hungry, everyone goes hungry, and even though they tried their hardest to survive in their situation, it was difficult because they were in a refugee camp.


The poem outlines the undying affection and confidence one mother emphatically holds with her child. The artist demonstrates to us the pictures of starvation and destitution that displaced people are compelled to confront. The title of the poem emits the underlying impression that the poem centres on displaced people: one who escapes looking for shelter. The lives of evacuee youngsters, their folks, their sentiments, their feelings and their agony. ‘For a son, she soon would have to forget ‘. This hints her child is kicking the bucket, and she would need to overlook him to adjust to her grievous misfortune.

The illustration in the first stanza, ‘ No Madonna and Child could touch that picture….’ identifies with the possibility of Mary and her tyke, Jesus. The photo consummate picture – the perfect picture of parenthood. The photo of a delightful, quiet mother with her heavenly newly conceived tyke. The artist utilizes the reiteration and the differentiating thoughts of the word ‘washed’ in portraying the withered condition of the evacuee kids. ‘Unwashed…’ – the clean state, ‘and ‘Washed-out…’ the physical condition of the kids because of the absence of nourishment.

‘Blown empty bellies ‘, the physical appearance of the youngsters’ stomachs on account of the restricted nourishment supply of just sugars. From this unfortunate eating regimen the mix of acids and gases victory the stomach of the youngsters. This distinctive portrayal could likewise be a play on words to the blowflies in Africa.

‘A ghost smile’, this analogy could be two thoughts: The mother is upbeat since she is with her child, you can tell she is glad yet her grin is a blackout, hard to take note of. Her joy can’t without much of a stretch be seen, her grin doesn’t appear in a physical appearance, and it holds joy that radiates its feeling in an inclination which can’t exactly be clarified, yet can be felt by others. This similitude indicates how the mother keeps a phoney, or ‘ghost’’ grin on her lips for her kid’s purpose – so her child doesn’t have any apprehensions or stresses.

The use of the word ‘skull’ is a typical image of death and hints or speaks to the passing of her child. In the poem, Achebe demonstrates the numerous parts of human disaster and physical enduring. For instance of human enduring, he portrays the evacuees in struggling laboured steps” and “washed-out ribs and dried up bottoms”. The Madonna is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and the Kid is her child, Jesus. A statue of the Madonna holding the Baby Jesus is regular in the Catholic Church. Keep in mind that Achebe composed this sonnet in the Catholic area of Biafra, where statues of the Madonna and Tyke would have been normal.

No reason is offered with respect to why the general population are in a displaced person camp. Maybe there had been a war, or some kind of common catastrophe, yet Achebe has apropos portrayed how radically the loves of those change who are compelled to leave their home and take protection by concentrating on one mother who is holding her diminishing child.

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