Her Mother’s Daughter by Nyadol Nyuon
In Her Mother’s Daughter by Nyadol Nyuon we have the theme of sacrifice, identity, separation, racism, pride, freedom, connection and belonging. Narrated in the first person by Nyuon herself it becomes clear to the reader after reading the story that Nyuon may be exploring the theme of sacrifice. Nyuon’s father gave his life during the Second Sudanese Civil War. While her mother was also absent from Nyuon’s life for a large period of time. It is as though Nyuon has been without an identity she believes in or understands. Not even while living in Australia does Nyuon feel comfortable because of her skin colour. She encounters racism and wonders what it really means to be Australian when one is black. If anything Nyuon does not feel as though she belongs in any of the countries she has lived in (Ethiopia, Kenya and Australia). Despite the separation from her parents Nyuon is proud of them
Proud of her father for giving his life for South Sudan and proud of her mother for raising her to the best of her ability. Even if Nyuon considers she may have been selfish at times when it came to loving and understanding her mother. Who at first struggled in Australia. The life that Nyuon’s mother lived in Australia is in contrast to her life in Ethiopia and South Sudan where she was well-respected and people sought her advice. This all changed when Nyuon’s family moved to Australia. They knew no one, were penniless and had to fend for themselves. Despite this struggle Nyuon managed to get a university education. Something that was simply impossible for Nyuon in Kenya.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The plane tickets and the plane that takes Nyuon and her family to Melbourne can be seen as symbols of freedom. The chance to have a better life. The cow that Nyuon’s grandmother wants to sacrifice highlights just how highly held Nyuon and her mother are. There is also a sense of disconnection when Nyuon meets her grandmother. This is noticeable by the fact that Nyuon does not cry as her grandmother does. In reality Nyuon may feel that just as she feels disconnected with people in Australia. She also feels disconnected with her relatives in Kenya. For Nyuon it is difficult to call one place home such has been the upheaval in her life.
The end of the story is interesting as Nyuon focuses again on connection or rather the lack of it. She wonders what it would be like to be Australian. What it really means. However there is a bright side for Nyuon. She feels as though she is more than her blackness. That she has lived a different life to others, like her younger siblings. Though this will not stop racism from being a factor in Nyuon’s life. She wonders what it would like to be accepted as a black Australian woman. Something she herself would like to identify as. Australia after all has given Nyuon choices and she has chosen well. Thanks to other people’s sacrifices Nyuon has been given opportunities she would not have had should her family have stayed in Kenya.