Anyone who has grown up watching Disney films has likely noticed the common theme of absent mothers. We see many of our characters grow up without mothers, with an evil step-mother, or with no parents at all.
It has been debated that this theme occurs throughout Disney films so children understand that there are a variety of possible family structures, to help children understand loss, or simply to stop a story becoming too character based, and ruining the plot.
However, the reason for the missing mothers may be due to a tragic story concerning Walt Disney himself. After the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the late 1930s, Disney brought his parents a new home in California. Shortly after moving in, issues with the furnace caused a gas leak, which killed his mother Flora, and injured his father Elias. It has often been said that Disney felt a great sense of guilt over the death of his mother, which has since become a permanent fixture of his films.
Next time you watch a Disney film and notice the missing mothers or absent parents, perhaps you are watching a lasting theme requested by Walt Disney himself, many decades after his death.