Folk Tale – Armenian – Mother’s Heart

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American, Armenian
Age: 22
Occupation: Graduate Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA/Phoenix, AZ
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2011
Primary Language: Armenian
Other Language(s): English

Folk Tale – Armenian

“There’s this story about a man who betrayed his mother. So he’s a momma’s boy but his wife hates her and so gives the husband an ultimatum: kill your mother or I will leave you. He’s sad, but he does it… rips out his mother’s heart, throws it on the ground. Then weeks later, he is walking home from the market and he trips on his mother’s heart and falls, skinning his knee or something. The mother’s heart says from the ground, genuinely concerned: ‘Oh my dear boy, please don’t be hurt.’ I believe this story is a metaphor for a mother’s infinite and unconditional love, even in complete betrayal.”

I agree with the informant’s interpretation of this tale. Even in the ultimate betrayal, being matricide, the mother is still loving and concerned for her son. Even in death, she reaches into his life. This story very effectively portrays the power and scope of a mother’s love for her child. Furthermore, the conflict that exists between a mother, her son, and his wife is portrayed in this tale. Often wives and mothers become jealous of each other, because both want to be the primary woman is the man’s life. The mother has cared for her son throughout his life, and now another woman has entered and, in some ways, replaced her. On the other hand, when a man remains too dependent on his mother after marriage, his wife may also become jealous and believe she is not enough. This dynamic is extremely gendered, but it nonetheless is depicted in an exaggerated manner in this story. The son is too dependent on his mother, so the wife forces him to murder his mother to prove his love and dedication to his new wife. This dynamic between these roles is exaggerated in this story, but it effectively exhibits the conflict that often exists.
This jealousy between new wife and mother is depicted in many stories, and often is portrayed as a struggle between the women. An example of this is the film, Monster-in-Law (2005), directed by Robert Luketic. In the film, a humorously violent struggle ensues between a mother and her son’s new fiancé (Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez).