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Brown Girl in the Ring - Book Report

Jul 30, 2008 748 Words
Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring creates a vision of a twenty-first century Toronto suffering political and economical crises, which has been barricaded by the suburbs. The main character of the novel is Ti-Jeanne, a young girl who loses everything in the story. Her story starts as a young troubled girl, fearful, surrounded by bad luck and scared of her grandmother, Mami. Throughout the story she interacts only to few people with whom her relationships are well established and interesting. Ti-Jeanne is involved in three different conflicts throughout her role. First being her special destiny, which is reflected from one of the line: “Ti-Jeanne could see with more than sight. Sometimes she saw how people were going to die”. But she hated these visions as they made her vulnerable. Whenever she used to get these visions, she lost whatever was going on in her surroundings, which she can’t afford to lose in the dangerous neighborhood she was residing. Ti-Jeanne works hard to separate her grandmother’s religious practice from her practice and knowledge as a person who heals. Since her grandmother was a registered nurse before the city was abandoned, she perceives her ability to heal as a professional skill rather than a god-given gift. Even though Mami’s stock of pharmaceutical drugs kept on increasing, she always made drugs using traditional herbals, which made it difficult for Ti-Jeanne to separate her grandmother’s practices. The second conflict involved, was her relationship with Tony, the father of the baby. Tony a drug addict worked for Rudy, the deadly drug dealer who threatened everyone in his neighborhood. When Ti-Jeanne came to know she was pregnant, she left Tony for the sake of the baby and returned to her grandmother's home. She always wanted Tony to stop working for Rudy and to stop the drugs, but she knows not to trust Tony’s promises to do so. She separated herself from Tony due to her sense of obligation to the baby. Whenever the baby sees Tony or he comes closer or tries to touch, the baby always cries as if the baby is sensing some kind of danger from Tony. Tony’s character portrays both Ti-Jeanne's dreams for a better life once he gets a job and settles down, preferably outside the city and the massive threat to her and her grandmother due to his commitment to Rudy for a volunteer donor heart. Ti-Jeanne's third area of conflict is portrayed in her relationships with her grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, and her mother, Mi-Jeanne. Ti-Jeanne doesn’t know a lot about her mother Mi-Jeanne, who disappeared one day without any explanation from Ti-Jeanne’s life. And when she comes to know that the blind homeless women who is known to her as “Crazy Betty”, in reality is her mother Mi-Jeanne, she gets a great shock. In fact in her absence, Gros-Jeanne filled up for Mi-Jeanne in for Ti-Jeanne's mother and also acts as her teacher, preparing her to live properly in the world. For the first part of the novel, Ti-Jeanne is in a riot against her customs/traditions and Gros-Jeanne's diligence in treating her as her follower. Gros-Jeanne requires that Ti-Jeanne should also find a place for herself in the lineage of the Jeanne’s in relation to the spiritual world. Since Ti-Jeanne never believed in this and always kept herself away from this tradition, she didn’t bother to join Gros-Jeanne in her rituals. But when Tony tells Ti-Jeanne about the trouble he’s got into and asks for her help, Ti-Jeanne seeks Gros-Jeanne's supernatural help, where the spirit Prince of Cemetery claims Ti-Jeanne as his spiritual child. But Ti-Jeanne doesn’t believe anything and wraps herself in denial. It is only when her grandmother is dead and no longer there to help her, she is forced not only to learn, but also to accept and practice the supernatural, which she had long tried to avoid. At the end in the climax scene of the book, Ti-Jeanne connects herself with the souls of her mother and grandmother, performs the supernatural and calls a gang of powerful spirits, becoming the "center pole" connecting the ordinary world with the spiritual world and thereby ending the Rudy period. So throughout the novel Ti-Jeanne has portrayed different characteristics of women. From being a fearful caring mother, to a romantic worried lover followed by a confused daughter and finally fearless granddaughter who is ready to do anything to end the evil activities of posse.

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