The Light Between Oceans
In The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, published in 2012, there are many themes of motherhood throughout the book. Post WWI, Tom Sherbourne, a lighthouse keeper, and Isabel, his wife, struggle through three miscarriages leaving Isabel in a very dark place. A couple years later Tom finds a dead father and crying baby washed up on the beach. Isabel sees this as a gift and convinces Tom to not file a report. Later in the book Tom and Isabel go in town and run into a woman named Hannah talking about her lost husband and baby. The rest of the book is about the struggle Isabel goes through when having to give up her baby Lucy to her rightful mother, Hannah. The novel represents mothers through their identity, children, and loyalty.
The portrayal of motherhood is very interesting in The Light Between Oceans because Isabel isn’t actually the biological mother but she basically adopts Lucy and makes Lucy her own child. But before she finds Lucy she has a few miscarriages and becomes depressed. Her depression shows how important being a mother is to her- it’s almost like her identity. Without a child Isabel feels incomplete. This instance represents women to only really be women if they have children. Isabel isn’t sad because she didn’t get a job she wants- instead she’s at home wishing she had a baby.
Another interesting aspect is that Lucy doesn't immediately accept Hannah as her mother because of her relationship with Isabel. This shows how much of an impact a mother can have on a child. It also makes me wonder how important it is to be raised by a biological parent. It could be just as effective to be raised by someone who treats you like his or her own. Regardless, Lucy doesn’t accept her mother completely and still has a place for Isabel in her heart. Even Hannah, Lucy’s biological mother, questions whether or not she should return her own child to them because of their connection.
Towards the end of the novel when Tom and Isabel are forced to give Lucy back Isabel practically betrays Tom in hopes to keep her Lucy. Tom ends up in jail, taking full responsibility for the “kidnapping” and Isabel hints to the police that Lucy’s father washed up on shore alive, which is completely false. This shows how far a mother would go for her child. There are no boundaries that keep Isabel from Lucy.
The book eases into the ending having Tom get out of jail and Isabel die of cancer. Lucy visits at Isabel’s funeral and Tom looks out over the sea. Stedman makes the reader empathizes with Isabel even when she’s going crazy. By the end of the book the reader believes its ok for another couple to raise someone else’s lost child instead of returning the child. But throughout the book we see the unstoppable love a mother has for her child.