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The quote, "Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children," is originally attributable to William Makepeace Thackeray in his 19th century serial novel, Vanity Fair. In contemporary media, the quote is memorable for its use in the James O'Barr graphic novel, The Crow, and subsequent motion picture.

In the original novel by Thackeray, the quote is used to describe a minor character, Rawdon Crowley the minor. Rawdon's mother, a social climber at the height of her material wealth, is emotionally distant to her son. Rather than yearning for the affections of his mother, the boy is observed by his maid as frequently engrossed in admiring his mother's precious jewelry and expensive clothing.

"Sometimes, when she was away, and Dolly his maid was making his bed, he came into his mother's room. It was as the abode of a fairy to him--a mystic chamber of splendour and delights. There in the wardrobe hung those wonderful robes--pink and blue and many-tinted. There was the jewel-case, silver-clasped, and the wondrous bronze hand on the dressing-table, glistening all over with a hundred rings. There was the cheval-glass, that miracle of art, in which he could just see his own wondering head and the reflection of Dolly (queerly distorted, and as if up in the ceiling), plumping and patting the pillows of the bed. Oh, thou poor lonely little benighted boy! Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children; and here was one who was worshiping a stone!" 1

In O'Barr's graphic novel, a resurrected Eric Draven (The Crow) is on a mission to exact revenge upon the gangsters who killed him and his wife. Eric meets a child waiting outside the apartment flat of one of his murderers, the junkie Fun Boy. Inside, Eric finds the child's mother in bed with Fun Boy. Before dealing with Fun, Eric confronts the mother, quoting Thackeray whilst entreating her to amend her motherly affections to the girl awaiting outside. 2