The narrator’s mother is a single parent, as suggested by the fact that the gardenia perfume is “the last present my father gave her before he disappeared into memory”. She has three daughters and her two neighbors, Mary Keith and Blondelle Harris, help her look after the children. She is likely not well-off, because she has to darn her socks instead of buying new ones. Since she cannot read or write, it is very likely she has a low-paying job. She clearly lives in a poor neighborhood as she is outside the area serviced by a better school. From the reference to the Ebony magazine, we can guess she and her family are African American.
The narrator’s mother wants to...