Brown Girls Brown Stones

Topics: African American, Black people, Zora Neale Hurston Pages: 7 (2227 words) Published: September 8, 2013
Brown Girl, Brownstones
Paule Marshall

Online Information For the online version of BookRags' Brown Girl, Brownstones Short Guide, including complete copyright information, please visit: http://www.bookrags.com/short/brown−girl−brownstones/ Copyright Information ©2000−2005 BookRags, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns", "Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related Web Sites". © 1994−2005, by Walton Beacham. The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". © 1994−2005, by Walton Beacham. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, Web distribution or information storage retrieval systems without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents
Social Concerns/Themes...............................................................................................1 Characters ......................................................................................................................2 Techniques/Literary Precedents..................................................................................3 Related Titles.................................................................................................................4

i

Social Concerns/Themes
Brown Girl, Brownstones has been described as a bildungsroman of a black female, and it is often compared to Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). It is a novel of initiation that follows the life of Selina as she grows up a first generation American, the daughter of Barbadian immigrants. As she matures, she struggles to resolve the conflict between succumbing to materialism and retaining the customs, rituals, and folkways of her parents' native land, Barbados. In developing this theme, Marshall contrasts Barbadian with American culture, and immigrant with American culture, and seems less concerned with Selina Boyce's race than with her status as a first generation American. Brown Girl, Brownstones examines the corruption and loss of identity that accompanies the obsessive pursuit of property, in this case, an obsession to purchase brownstones. Cultural assimilation and financial security replace warmth and love, and real poverty is exchanged for spiritual poverty. A second theme in the novel involves Selina's search for her identity as a woman and as a daughter of Barbadian immigrants. She must learn to transcend the stereotypes and repressive definitions of "woman" established by a patriarchal Caribbean community, as well as to carve out a meaningful place for herself in America.

Social Concerns/Themes

1

Characters
The development of identity is at the core of Brown Girl, Brownstones, and in its related books The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (1969) and Praisesong for the Widow (1983). Through the eyes of Selina Boyce, the reader sees the struggles of her mother Silla and the women of her Barbadian Brooklyn neighborhood, which is the major setting of the novel. Deighton Boyce, Selina's father, represents a back−homein−Barbados mentality, a kind of fantasy of spirit, gentleness, love, passion, and warmth. Silla comes to reflect a cold, unfeeling, competitive materialism, which is the face that America presents to the "Bajan" immigrant. Silla and Deighton's relationship embodies the extremes of the Barbadian immigrant experience in America. The old culture and the old gender definitions must be refashioned to suit a new life. Silla and her friends must find ways of coping with being disparaged as black,...
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