The Secret Garden

by

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Susan Sowerby / Mother Character Analysis

Susan Sowerby is Martha and Dickon's mother. Because Martha refers to her only as "mother" when she speaks about her to Mary, Mary also uses "mother" to talk about Mrs. Sowerby until she meets her months later. Martha admires her mother, as she's an exceptional baker and a loving parent to her twelve children. This admiration is shared; both Mrs. Medlock and Colin's nurse discuss how skilled Mrs. Sowerby is at raising children. They specifically latch onto her insistence that a girl like Mary should be allowed to run outside and develop independently, rather than be put in the care of a nurse or governess. She even writes to Mr. Craven saying just this, and he takes her advice seriously. In her conversations with Dickon, Mrs. Sowerby shows herself to be kind, curious, and respectful of the private world that Dickon inhabits. She takes a keen interest in Colin and Mary's development and begins sending along baked goods and fresh milk. This allows Colin and Mary to pretend they're not hungry for their meals at the manor, thereby throwing their caregivers off the scent of Colin’s dramatically improving health. Eventually, Colin and Mary invite Mrs. Sowerby to the secret garden, where she shows them how a mother would care for them by hugging them, listening with interest to what they have to say, and feeding them nourishing foods. She's taken with Colin's understanding of Magic and she agrees that regardless of what a person calls it, it represents a belief in the divine and is therefore good. Following this, she writes to Mr. Craven and encourages him to come home.

Susan Sowerby / Mother Quotes in The Secret Garden

The The Secret Garden quotes below are all either spoken by Susan Sowerby / Mother or refer to Susan Sowerby / 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:
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Secret Garden published in 2010.
Chapter 7 Quotes

She walked away, slowly thinking. She had begun to like the garden just as she had begun to like the robin and Dickon and Martha's mother. She was beginning to like Martha, too. This seemed a good many people to like—when you were not used to liking.

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

"You are just what I—what I wanted," he said. "I wish you were my mother—as well as Dickon's!"

All at once Susan Sowerby bent down and drew him with her warm arms close against the bosom under the blue cloak—as if he had been Dickon's brother. The quick mist swept over her eyes.

"Eh! Dear lad!" she said. "Thy own mother's in this 'ere very garden, I do believe. She couldna' keep out of it. Thy father mun come back to thee—he mun!"

Related Characters: Colin Craven (speaker), Susan Sowerby / Mother (speaker), Mary Lennox , Dickon
Related Symbols: The Secret Garden, Roses
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Secret Garden LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Secret Garden PDF

Susan Sowerby / Mother Character Timeline in The Secret Garden

The timeline below shows where the character Susan Sowerby / Mother appears in The Secret Garden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Martha says that it's time Mary learned and notes that Mother spoke often about "grand people's children" turning out to be fools because of this sort... (full context)
Chapter 6
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...like this. Mary listens intently. She's very interested in Martha's home life and family, especially Mother and Dickon. (full context)
Chapter 7
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...cottage. Martha thinks that Mary doesn't look so sour now and says that she'll ask Mother if Mary might visit sometime while she's at home today. Mary says that she likes... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...thinks that she likes the garden, just like she likes the robin, Dickon, Martha, and Mother. (full context)
Chapter 8
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Martha returns the next day with stories of her day out. She and Mother washed and mended clothes and baked good things to eat. The children all liked hearing... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Martha leaves and returns with a present for Mary, courtesy of Mother: a jump rope. Having never seen one, Mary wants to know what it's for. Incredulously,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...manor and eats the biggest dinner she's ever eaten. Martha is delighted and remarks that Mother will be pleased at the effect of the jump rope. As she eats, Mary asks... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...like Ben Weatherstaff and grow a little garden. This delights Martha and she says that Mother actually had the same idea. Martha says that there's a shop in Thwaite village that... (full context)
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...finds his love of animals intriguing and wants to meet him. Martha also says that Mother plans to ask Mrs. Medlock if Mary could come to the cottage sometime. Mary feels... (full context)
Chapter 12
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...Craven is back and wants to see her. Mary turns white as Martha explains that Mother spoke to Mr. Craven in town and suggested he see Mary before he goes away... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...to speak. She says that she doesn't want a governess, and Mr. Craven muses that Mrs. Sowerby , Martha's mother, said that Mary doesn't need one yet. Mary insists that Mrs. Sowerby... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...Mrs. Medlock to feed Mary and let her run outside, and that Mary can visit Mrs. Sowerby . Mrs. Medlock is pleased that this all means she'll be required to do little... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...talks about how nasty he can be and how ill he's been. She says that Mother believes a child kept indoors like Colin can't possibly live. (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Mary and Colin spend hours talking about Dickon, the moor, and Mrs. Sowerby 's twelve children. They giggle like normal children, and after a while, Colin notes that... (full context)
Chapter 19
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...feel better. Dr. Craven leaves soon after and speaks briefly with Mrs. Medlock about how Mrs. Sowerby has said that it's good for Colin and Mary to know each other. They discuss... (full context)
Chapter 21
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...to talk about the tree that killed Mrs. Craven. Dickon tells Mary that according to Mother, Mrs. Craven's spirit is in the garden drawing the children to her. (full context)
Chapter 24
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...the secret garden, he's working in his own garden at home. After supper some nights, Mrs. Sowerby goes outside to speak with her son and admire his flowers and vegetables. In time,... (full context)
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
Mrs. Sowerby laughs again at this and says that in the mornings, she'll send Dickon with a... (full context)
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...bread and milk, Colin is beside himself with joy and declares that there's Magic in Mrs. Sowerby . As Mrs. Sowerby continues to send food, Mary and Colin realize that they're two... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
...and Mary perform them. The exercises soon become part of the day's routine. Thanks to Mrs. Sowerby 's offerings and the oven in the woods, Colin and Mary start sending their meals... (full context)
Chapter 26
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
...woman lets herself in through the garden door and Dickon explains that it's his mother, Mrs. Sowerby . All three children run to her and Colin shyly tells her that he's wanted... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Ben Weatherstaff approaches and points out Colin's strong legs to Mrs. Sowerby . Mrs. Sowerby then turns to Mary and says that with how well she's looking,... (full context)
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Colin says that he feels joyful, and Mrs. Sowerby says that the Magic listened to the Doxology. Then, she pulls out a basket with... (full context)
Chapter 27
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...is locked and the key is buried. He has one letter from Yorkshire. It's from Mrs. Sowerby , asking him to come home. (full context)
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
...yet know how to properly use Magic. Mr. Craven decides to stop in and see Mrs. Sowerby on his way to Misselthwaite. He finds only eight of her children, however, as Mrs.... (full context)