Swing Time: Parents

In the novel, Swing Time, Zadie Smith introduces two young, brown girls with different family backgrounds. Parents play a big role in the novel with their kids, with each other, and with other families. The narrator and Tracey are treated and raised differently, and when they come together it can be either a fun time or a bad time. As both girls enjoy spending time with each other, the parents do not approve of each other nor the friendship that Tracey and the narrator have.




IMG_1053The narrator’s mother is more knowledgeable and has a set mindset on things. The mother is very stable when it comes to financial situations, politics and even her look. She has ambition. She has a career path ready for her, she is educated, and has a husband. Whereas Tracey’s


mother was the opposite of the narrator’s mother. She was very obese, and she seemed as if she did not take care of herself. Unlike the narrator’s mother, Tracey’s mother wore a lot of jewelry. The mother was not financially stable compared to the narrator’s mother. She tried to get on a disability check, so she can make more money which would make her seem competitive and cheating towards the narrator’s mother. Tracey’s mother had no ambition to d


o anything but to spoil her daughter with everything and anything because she was “her only joy” (11). Bother mothers had a man in their lives, but the narrator’s mother was married to her daughter’s dad. Tracey’s mother had a boyfriend while her real dad was in and out of jail.

The narrator’s mother and Tracey’s mother were different when it came to raise their kids which made the mothers disapprove on their friendship. Tracey was spoiled and got to do almost anything she wanted. The narrator knew that if she did any of what Tracey does her mother would not approve. As Tracey’s mother is encouraging Tracey to watch as much TV as she wants and influences her to dance. It was clear that Tracey was the better dancer and that her mother encouraged her to show it off. The narrator’s mother did not approve of her daughter dancing. She thought it was a waste of time since she was not a dancer but tried to become one. The narrator’s mother was feminist (9). She believed strongly in young black girls to do something with their lives.



While Tracey tries to give her opinion to the narrator, the narrator pushes it to the side. The narrator is close with her mother. She listens and takes in all the advice her mother gives her because her mother strives for the best. At a young age, being friends with Tracey was fun but sneaky. Many things Tracey was allowed to do, the narrator was not. As she got older, the narrator started to listen to her mother more. She started to move away from Tracey and from dance to find herself. The narrator was able to go off into school and find a more fitting lifestyle all from her mother’s advice. But soon the narrator rebels against her mother. The narrator went on her own path in life and did things that her mother did not approve of.



Both girls go through problems with their mothers. From a young age, both girls were all about their mothers, but as time went on and things started happening and the relationship between them and their mothers as well as both Tracey and the narrator start to deteriorate. The narrator’s mother is the most vivid character as she gives her daughter positive, influential advice and wants to see her prosper. From living in the streets as a middle-class black woman, the narrator’s mother knew she was not going to stay there, and she wanted her daughter to do better. She wanted her daughter to live a better life. The novel was able to show us good and bad motherhood and how it effected their kids growing up.


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