The Martian

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Watney’s mother Character Analysis

Watney doesn’t reveal much about his mother, except that, when he complained about shoveling snow as a kid, she told him not to be a “wuss.” When she writes a letter to him after he regains contact with NASA, he reads it over and over again. She lives in Chicago with Watney’s father.

Watney’s mother Quotes in The Martian

The The Martian quotes below are all either spoken by Watney’s mother or refer to Watney’s mother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Broadway Books edition of The Martian published in 2014.
Chapter 13 Quotes

But my favorite email was the one from my mother. It’s exactly what you’d expect. Thank God you’re alive, stay strong, don’t die, your father says hello, etc. I read it fifty times in a row. Hey don’t get me wrong, I’m not a mama’s boy or anything […] It’s totally manly and normal for me to cling to a letter from my mom. It’s not like I’m some homesick kid at camp, right?

Related Characters: Mark Watney (speaker), Watney’s mother
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

Now that Watney has hacked the rover to “talk” to NASA through Pathfinder, he receives daily “data dumps” of emails, just like the Ares 3 crew on Hermes. This includes fan mail and letters from friends and family. Watney is, understandably, moved to receive a letter from his mother, but he is self-conscious about admitting how much the letter meant to him.

Watney attempts to downplay the importance of the letter by describing its contents as routine: “exactly what you’d expect.” His assertion, “I’m not a mama’s boy or anything” has the defensive tone of a child trying ward off a bully’s joke by making the same self-deprecating joke first. Part of this self-consciousness may come from the fact that he knows his log will be read by many people in the future. Throughout the novel, Watney routinely avoids or downplays his emotions in an attempt to portray himself as “strong” and traditionally masculine.


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Watney’s mother Character Timeline in The Martian

The timeline below shows where the character Watney’s mother appears in The Martian. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
Solitude and the Human Need for Connection Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
...Watney repeats that the crew was not at fault in abandoning him and says, “Hi, Mom!” He updates Venkat on his potato-growing plan, explaining that he now has food through Sol... (full context)