Mama's Bank Account is book written by Kathryn Forbes. It contains the story of a Norwegian family living in San Francisco during the 1920’s. It contains a group of sketches showing Mama who is the main character also the mother of the narrator, raising her family in San Francisco. It is narrated from Katrin’s point of view, who is the eldest daughter. She desires a writing career in future. The book is centered on Mama's relationships with her husband who is a carpenter five children, her Uncle Chris, her Aunt Elna, and four of her sisters. This kind of family is the extended type of family that works, mainly because of Mama's talents of understanding and mediation. The author McLean gives the character of each family member well and in a clear manner. Each of them performs regularly in the stories, which are saturated by an atmosphere full of humor and optimism. In distressing periods such as strikes and illness, the ability and common sense of Mama prevail in making things right. Many of the stories contained in the book show the difficulties of Americanization, but all in all the wisdom that Mama has surpasses class and cultural boundaries, as she has helped her daughters in overcoming the anti-immigrant prejudice they face at school. Her wisdom and warmth materialize at large, showing close approximation to the traditional American maternal ideal.
The story of the book takes place in San Francisco. The family involved originally originated from Norway before migrating to the United States in the 1900s. The family is struggling economically this is seen by the fact that the father is a carpenter and as a result the mother has to draft a budget of his weekly earnings and she creates a fictional account in a big bank in the city. Some of the main characters of the book include; the narrator Katrin who is the eldest daughter of the family she is aspiring to be a writer and does not give up easily despite being rejected by many authors till she is finally accepted, the narrators mother called Martha who is referred to as Mama she is the main character of the story she possesses great wisdom and through her the family survives many tribulations she is truthful and compassionate and will do anything for those she loves, the narrators father named Lars he is a hardworking carpenter and helps support the family, the narrators brother Nels hardworking and has great ambitions in life through education, the narrators sister Christine who is the second daughter after the narrator, the narrators youngest sister Dagmar who is sickly but after an operation she gets well, her mothers uncle Chris who is kind and thoughtful he is the one who takes Dagmar to hospital, her mothers aunt Elna, four of her mothers sisters Aunt Jenny who loves criticizing many, aunt Sigrid and aunt trina and lastlty their poor boarder, Mr. Jonathan Hyde who is rather learned but at the same time dishonest for he gives out a fake check to pay the family.
One very important chapter is the first where the narrator recalls about her family when she was a young girl on a street in San Francisco called Castro in the year 1920s. The members of this family include Mama, Papa, brother Nels, Sister Christine, littlest sister Dagmar, mama’s Uncle Chris, and three Aunts. Every Saturday night Mama prepared a kind of family budget by separating Papa's wages to meet necessary expenses such as rent, food. As a result of this every week there is always just enough for the children so as not to dip into Mama's Bank Account. Mama always assured her children that she had a bank account at a big bank in town. This chapter is very important to the children as this greatly reassures the children especially during tough times. They get not to fear eviction as they witness other families in their neighborhood being evicted from their houses.
Another important chapter is the third chapter. In this chapter Dagmar is seen to have an earache, and though Mama tries her own homespun medicine the ache persists .The family doctor, Doctor Johnson, informs the family that the condition is very serious and that an operation must be performed. They have to go to go to the clinic hospital, because the hospital is very expensive. As Dagmar is being wheeled down the hall Mama Tries to go with her into the operating room, but she is stopped, because the hospital rules do not agree with this .the operation is performed by Dr. Johnson and come out to saying that Dagmar is doing fine. Mama is not satisfied and insists on seeing Dagmar because she fears that she will wake up in a strange environment and get scared. Mama is further reassured that the nurses are well trained ton handle such cases. She still goes ahead and asks the nurse for permission but is still denied she finally succeeds by disguising herself in order to reach her daughter and sings to her some lullaby’s. This chapter shows the extent mama would go in order to care for her loved ones.
The book is a classic piece of art. It gives many lessons and shows the importance of women and their wisdom to the families’ upbringing. It shows to what extent parents can go for the sake of their children. And finally it teaches us on how to counter discrimination in life from others. I would recommend this book to be read by children between the ages of 12 to 18 so us to improve their respect and live of their families.