The Emotional Aspect Of Infant Mortality Essay

The Emotional Aspect Of Infant Mortality Essay

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With letting go, comes the emotional aspect that occurs when a loved one dies. Mothers are sometimes portrayed as “larger than life” or “all powerful and sometimes all-destructive” (1992: 354). They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and feel responsible when things don’t always go correctly. In the Alto, motherly love grows very slowly because of the high rate of infant mortality. If you look at the history of childhood, you can see that infant death was very common in the earlier part of history because of lack of medical attention and today’s modern technology. The further back in history you go “the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized and sexually abused” (1992: 355). Mothers during this time also had a very distanced relationship from their younger children for example some viewed the “development and happiness of infants younger than two with indifference” (1992: 355). Early human life in places like urban slums and shantytowns show why maternal indifference exists; infants and young children in these places are more susceptible to premature death. Maternal indifference does not always lead to death and should the infant begin to show that they have a knack for life, the “mother may greet the doomed child’s surprising turnabout with grateful joy and deep and lasting affection” (1992: 357).


In the later part of the chapter, Scheper-Hughes writes about different interviews she had and some of the responses are quite frightening. When she asked about a suffering infant and how a neighbor watched this happen, the response she got revolved mainly around God. The woman’s response was that God is God and “if we didn’t have a mighty faith in him, we would put a rope around our neck ...


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...hildren. If you look at the life of Lordes, she had multiple pregnancies and live births and of those only managed to raise around five or six of the babies. Mothers feel a sense of powerlessness when it comes to the causes of death for their children. The Alto is plagued by these new kinds of killers like infant malnutrition and dehydration that is caused by diarrhea and unclean water. When this happens to the babies the mother use the excuse that the baby simply did not have a knack for living. When the angel baby is taken for burial, older children, who do not seem to be fazed by the death of their sibling, carry their cardboard coffins. Everyone believes that these babies have been destined to be reunited with Jesus since birth and that their death is a blessing to all. They are on their way to be reunited with God and the rest of their family in heaven.

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