At the Bottom of the River Quotes


"Looking at the horizon again, I saw a lone figure coming toward me, but I wasn't frightened because I was sure it was my mother. As I got closer to the figure, I could see that it wasn't my mother, but still I wasn't frightened because I could see that it was a woman."

The daughter

As the girl walks alone at night, she keeps hearing her mother's warnings about the dangers of being a girl in their community. She spots a person in the dark. Her naivety can be seen here because she assumes the person is her mother. In her world, her mom is the supreme being, the one she trusts, the one in control of everything. When she sees that it's not her mom, she still isn't afraid. Any woman is a friend to her because the woman must be like her own mother, caring and safe and good.

". . . This is how to behave in the presence of men who don't know you very well, and this way they won't recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming. . ."

The mother

The mother wants to keep her daughter safe. She lists rules and rules and rules, trying to teach her daughter to be successful and capable and respectable. Overall, she is teaching her society's role for women, which is outdated and extremely traditional. Her daughter isn't a good listener, though, so her mom worries that the girl will bring shame to the whole family and find herself in an unhealthy situation.

"The night-soil men can see a bird walking in trees. It isn't a bird. It is a woman who has removed her skin and is on her way to drink the blood of her secret enemies. It is a woman who has left her skin in a corner of a house made out of wood. It is a woman who is reasonable and admires honeybees in the hibiscus."

The daughter

As the girl grows, she learns the undeniable truth of her mother's warnings against men. She has become embittered toward men because of their flippant disregard for and mistreatment of women. They stand around "bird-watching." What they're really doing is ogling women, the same women who are working themselves to death in their households. If a man wants to see beauty, he watches a woman. But if a woman desires beauty, she'll admire the plants and animals all around her.

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