Gloria Naylor's Mama Day Essay

Gloria Naylor's Mama Day Essay

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Gloria Naylor's Mama Day


George and Ophelia grow up in significantly different environments with exposure to vastly dissimilar experiences; their diverse backgrounds have a profound impact on the way they interpret and react to situations as adults. George and Ophelia both grow up without their parents, but for different reasons. George grows up at the Wallace P. Andrews Shelter for Boys in New York. The Shelter’s strict surroundings did not provide the warm and inviting atmosphere that a mother strives for in a home. The employees at the Shelter are not “loving people,” (p. 23) but they are devoted to their job, and the boys. At a young age, Ophelia loses her mother. We learn very little about her apparently absent father. Mama Day and Abigail raise Ophelia. Abigail provides a source of comfort and love for Ophelia as she fulfills the role of mother figure. Mama day, Ophelia’s great aunt, acts more as a father figure. “If Grandma had been there, she would have held me when I broke down and cry. Mama Day only said that for a long time there would be something to bring on tears aplenty.” (p. 304). Ophelia grows up on the small island of Willow Springs. Everyone knows each other and their business, in the laid-back island community. The border between Georgia and South Carolina splits down the middle of the island. Instead of seeing any advantage to belonging to either state, the townspeople would prefer to operate independently. For George and Ophelia, the differences in their backgrounds will have a tremendous impact on many facets of their adult lives.

George and Ophelia interpret their chance meetings based on their backgrounds. George grows up with the words “only the present has potent...


... middle of paper ...


...with the flow of things. She took care of her belongings, but she did not manage them in an exact manner. She did not understand why he was so angry about a fraction of an inch.

George and Ophelia accept their differences and enjoy their years together. No doubt, they had to learn how to react to each other. The incident with the make-up could have ended in bitterness, but Ophelia realized that George said his comments for her benefit, not to hurt her. We all have to learn from the interactions that take place in our youth. As adults, we can choose to continue those same methods of interacting and reacting or we can learn to modify our exchanges and reactions in order to get along with the new people in our life. Just as George and Ophelia, we cannot escape the influence of the personalities and environment of our youth, but we can learn from it.

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