The Yellow Birds

by

Kevin Powers

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Yellow Birds can help.
Characterized primarily by the fear and relief she feels in relation to her son’s time in Iraq, Bartle’s mother proves confused by her son’s psychological trauma after the war. Although she does not impose her thoughts on him and tries to be as understanding as possible, her efforts at understanding Bartle are stifled by his own reluctance to express himself. Bartle’s mother thus remains a character marked by worry and confusion.

Bartle’s Mother Quotes in The Yellow Birds

The The Yellow Birds quotes below are all either spoken by Bartle’s Mother or refer to Bartle’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:
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown, and Company edition of The Yellow Birds published in 2012.
Chapter 5 Quotes

I felt as if I’d somehow been returned to the singular safety of the womb, untouched and untouchable to the world outside her arms around my slouching neck. I was aware of all this, though I am not sure how. Yet when she said, “Oh, John, you’re home,” I did not believe her.

Related Characters: John Bartle (speaker), Bartle’s Mother
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Yellow Birds LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Yellow Birds PDF

Bartle’s Mother Character Timeline in The Yellow Birds

The timeline below shows where the character Bartle’s Mother appears in The Yellow Birds. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: December 2003 – Fort Dix, New Jersey
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...spend the evening with their families for the last time before leaving for Iraq. Bartle’s mother comes and feels upset about her son leaving for the war, but tries to accept... (full context)
Chapter 4: September 2004 – Al Tafar, Nineveh Province, Iraq
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...realizes that it must be morning back home. He remembers the day he told his mother, without forewarning, that he had enlisted into the army. Bartle feels that his life has... (full context)
Chapter 5: March 2005 – Richmond, Virginia
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Companionship vs. Solitude Theme Icon
Bartle falls asleep and soon finds himself in Virginia. His mom welcomes him at the airport, her hands pressing against his face and uniform, as though... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...taking cover in the fields, examining which positions would allow him to take cover. His mother asks him if he is okay, startling him, and he says that he is fine.... (full context)
Chapter 7: August 2005 – Richmond, Virginia
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Companionship vs. Solitude Theme Icon
Justice, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
...as he feels degraded. He tries to make himself as discrete as possible in his mother’s house, drinking the beer in the kitchen and watching the woods through the window. (full context)
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Companionship vs. Solitude Theme Icon
Bartle finds that everything he does reminds him of Iraq. Once, when his mother asks him to repair the fence, he hears a crow caw and, thinking that the... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...become aware of his state he would have to answer uncomfortable questions. One morning, his mother comes to him with the phone, telling him that his friend Luke is going to... (full context)
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Unable to keep thinking about Murph, Bartle walks back to his mother’s house, puts some belongings in a duffel bag, and leaves. Although he tries to concentrate... (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Companionship vs. Solitude Theme Icon
Justice, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
...and he will never find absolution for—are eating away at him, even though his own mother is proud of him. (full context)
War, Violence, and Detachment Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Companionship vs. Solitude Theme Icon
Justice, Morality, and Guilt Theme Icon
When Bartle’s mother sees him walk through the door, she grabs his face, saying she thought she had... (full context)