have hardly any milk left. Unfortunately, formula is expensive and needs to be diluted with water or other things to make it last, which in the end leads to the wasting away of their children. Bom Jesus’ residents view on child mortality in combination with the teachings of the Catholic Church. 3. The women in Bom Jesus are so pious that they see the death of a child as justified, and that God will take the child to save the mother from suffering. Their believe is that the child could potentially turn out to be a thief or a murderer, and by dying the mother is saved from pain. (Scheper-Hughes; 394) A child that is named after a saint is usually the first to be taken by the saints, which is viewed as payment for protection. (Scheper-Hughes; 395) These women believe in an afterlife and know that everybody was born for a reason, in some cases the reason is to die. (Scheper-Hughes; 397) Scheper-Hughes suggests however, that the Brazilians are more tolerant of human difference than other cultures in which infanticide is still practiced. In comparison to the people of Bom Jesus, the Mehinaku tribe in Brazil will kill their infants if they show any abnormality or are born as twins. (Scheper-Hughes; 376) She also describes motherly love as something that “grows slowly, tentatively, and fearfully,” and how can it be differently if so
much despair, pessimism and doubt are rooted in continuous infant/ child death. (Scheper- Hughes; 359) Since the only way a child can be legitimized is by the man bringing formula to the mother of his child, he is part of the terrible cycle of child death. In conclusion, I do believe that the women from Bom Jesus have a maternal instinct in some regard, but they have also experienced too much death and are hesitant to love their children. Most women see the death of their child as a positive thing, because they think their child is going to the afterlife.
References Cited. Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. Death without Weeping. University of California Press, 1992. Print
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- Winter '20
- Anthropology, Death Without Weeping, Breast milk, Bom Jesus