Essay PreviewMore ↓
The comparisons--North vs. South, city vs. country, technology vs. nature--are numerous and have been well documented in 20th century literature. Progress contrasts sharply with rooted cultural beliefs and practices. Personalities and mentalities about life, power and change differ considerably between worlds... worlds that supposed-intellectuals from the West would classify as "modern" and "backwards," respectively. When these two worlds collide, the differences--and the danger--rise significantly. This discrepancy between the old and the new is one of the principal themes of Gloria Naylor's Mama Day. The interplay between George, Ophelia and Mama Day shows the discrepancies between a "modern" style of thinking and one born of spirituality and religious beliefs. Dr. Buzzard serves as a weak bridge between these two modes of thought. In Mama Day, the Westernized characters fail to grasp the power of the Willow Springs world until it is too late.
"When I was just out of school I worked with a team of engineers in redesigning a nozzle for a nuclear steam turbine generator... It was an awesome machine... And when it ran... lighting up every home in New York, a feeling radiated through the pit of my stomach as if its nerve endings were connected to each of those ten million light bulbs. That was power. But the winds coming around the corners of that house was God" (251). George's experience in the hurricane is just one example of the contrasts between technology and spirituality. George ardently believes that every problem can be solved with rational thinking, planning and plenty of hard work. His obsession with fixing the bridge after the hurricane further illustrates this point; despite assurances from Mama Day and Dr. Buzzard that the bridge would be built in its own time, George diligently pushes the townsfolk beyond their capacity to work. His behavior surrounding the bridge--not to mention the boat he tries to mend--is based on his desire to save Ophelia from a strange illness. He ignores the advice and guidance of Mama Day and plunges into the crisis through rational means. Ultimately, he loses his own life when saving his beloved wife, though George never understands how or why. Dr. Buzzard had warned him that "A man would have grown enough to know that really believing in himself means that he ain't gotta be afraid to admit there's some things he can't do alone" (292).
How to Cite this Page
"Mama Day by Gloria Naylor." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Aug 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Gloria Naylor's Mama Day It is impossible to interpret Gloria Naylor’s 1988 novel, Mama Day, in one way. There are multiple standpoints that a reader can take in explaining various events that occur throughout the book, as well as different ways that the characters in the book interpret these events. The author never fully clarifies many questions that the story generates so as to leave the readers with the opportunity to answer them based on their own personal experiences and beliefs. The multiplicity of perspectives in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day is embodied in the legend of Sapphira Wade and the dynamics between logic and the supernatural and between George and Cocoa.... [tags: Gloria Naylor Mama Day Essays]
1235 words (3.5 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Gloria Naylor Mama Day Essays]
1245 words (3.6 pages)
- Mama Day by Gloria Naylor Mama Day by Gloria Naylor is a fantastic novel filled with vivid imagery and intriguing characters. Naylor weaves a realistic tale, despite the fantastic events that she describes. Her characters are believable and behave like "real people". However, Naylor's greatest asset is her descriptive powers, which not only sets the scene, but enraptures readers into Cocoa's dual worlds of New York City and Willow Springs, imprisoning us with her words. The plot centers around the three main characters: Ophelia/Cocoa/Baby Girl, George and Mama Day.... [tags: Mama Day Gloria Naylor Literature Essays]
660 words (1.9 pages)
- Mama Day by Gloria Naylor The comparisons--North vs. South, city vs. country, technology vs. nature--are numerous and have been well documented in 20th century literature. Progress contrasts sharply with rooted cultural beliefs and practices. Personalities and mentalities about life, power and change differ considerably between worlds... worlds that supposed-intellectuals from the West would classify as "modern" and "backwards," respectively. When these two worlds collide, the differences--and the danger--rise significantly.... [tags: Mama Day Gloria Naylor Literature Essays]
839 words (2.4 pages)
- Gloria Naylor's Mama Day Gloria Naylor's Mama Day takes place in two distinct environments, each characterized by the beliefs and ideologies of the people who inhabit the seemingly different worlds. The island of Willow Springs, comprised solely by the descendants of slaves, is set apart from the rest of the United States and is neither part of South Carolina nor Georgia. As such, its inhabitants are exempt from the laws of either state and are free to govern themselves as they see fit. Only a worn-out bridge built in 1920 connects the inhabitants to the mainland, but the people of Willow Springs are entirely self-sufficient.... [tags: Gloria Naylor Mama Day Literature Essays]
951 words (2.7 pages)
- George’s Life Sacrifice in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day George and Ophelia, two characters in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, have a complex yet intimate relationship. They meet in New York where they both live. Throughout their hardships, Ophelia and George stay together and eventually get married. Ophelia often picks fights with George to test his love for her, and time after time, he proves to her that he does love her. Gloria Naylor uses George as a Christ figure in his relationship with Ophelia to eventually save her life.... [tags: Gloria Naylor Mama Day]
746 words (2.1 pages)
- Ethnics and Heritage Destroyed George in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day It has been said before that opposites attract when it comes to love. In Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, two people who would seemingly never end up together somehow find a way to form a relationship that eventually leads to a marriage. George and Cocoa, the two lovers featured in this book, come from backgrounds that could not be more unlike the other. How they end up falling in love is close to a miracle, but because of their huge difference in background, they bring to each other what they wish they could have in themselves.... [tags: Gloria Naylor Mama Day Essays]
1005 words (2.9 pages)
- City Boy versus Country Girl Gloria Naylor’s novel, Mama Day, shows how two loving people can unite in marriage, while being from two separate worlds. The way that Naylor creates the anxiety between these two characters is by the differences in their backgrounds--including their families, traditions and their geographical origins. Cocoa and George are extremely different; however, this is what makes their marriage so strong. Raised by the two most respected women in the town, Cocoa grew up on a small southern island with a loving family, while George grew up in a boys’ home without a family in urban New York.... [tags: Mama Day Gloria Naylor Essays]
920 words (2.6 pages)
- Daughters of the Dust and Mama Day Although their plots are divergent, Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” and Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day possess strikingly similar elements: their setting in the islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, their cantankerous-but-lovable matriarchs who are both traditional healers, and stories of migration, whether it be to the mainland or back home again. The themes of the film and the book are different but at the same time not dissimilar: Dash’s film emphasizes the importance of retaining connections to the ancestral past, while Naylor’s novel focuses more on love, loss, and reconciliation with the past that is part of the present and will contin... [tags: Julie Dash Gloria Naylor Literature Essays]
924 words (2.6 pages)
- The entire structure of Mama Day is fitting to the telling of multiple love stories entertwined. Like the most heartfelt episode of Seinfeld ever Gloria Naylor doesn’t tell a love story, but rather lays out in detail the events of everyday life for all of the central characters. In the process the love stories of the characters are all told at once. The most obvious example is the relationship between George and Cocoa (arguably the main love story). Through the book we see them meet, fall in love, and go through excitement and hardship; all that love is.... [tags: essays research papers]
1031 words (2.9 pages)
Pearl is another character who displays disdain for the ancient ways. She desperately wants her daughter, Bernice, to get pregnant. Mama Day uses herbal treatment to help induce a pregnancy, though Pearl believes that the blessed event occurred through natural means... with a pinch of scientific assistance from Dr. Smithfield. "Won't be no midwives delivering her grandchild, Pearl is crowing, that baby is getting the very best. Once Bernice listened to her and stopped taking all that 'bush medicine,' see what happened?" (149). Though she respects Mama Day as an individual matriarch, Pearl does not believe in her methods. She feels embarrassed by what is decidedly un-modern behavior, bordering on witchcraft. Pearl does not honor the powers of her own culture and the possibilities that emerge from that power. She regards the "mojo" exhibited by Mama Day and exploited by Dr. Buzzard as little more than superstition and trickery.
On that note, Dr. Buzzard connects the two worlds described in Mama Day. He promotes the subtle forces that influence African culture, but he manipulates them for his own personal gain. Mama Day loathes Dr. Buzzard more than any other character in the novel. "If you really had a conscience, you wouldn't be selling them hoodoo bits of rags and sticks--and that watered-down moonshine as medicine, passing yourself off as a..." (51). Though she does not complete her thought, her message is clear: Dr. Buzzard is abusing the ancient ways for money. He chooses to embrace neither Western medicine nor the true spirit of the cultural forms of healing. His shameless techniques contrast with the subtle, humble methods employed by Mama Day. Buzzard is not really a doctor, but he serves a useful purpose: he exemplifies both the material desires inherent in Western thought and the spiritual possibilities of his own culture.
In Mama Day, Gloria Naylor explores the relationship between the ideas common in urban, Western culture and the notions found in Willow Springs. George, Pearl and Dr. Buzzard all display traits found in "modern" societies. Furthermore, each of these characters clashes with the fundamental beliefs of Mama Day, which are rooted in religion and spirituality. They ignored because they did not understand, and the forces controlled by Mama Day went unnoticed and unheeded. Mama Day shows that, while there are benefits to the new ways, one must always respect and cherish the old thoughts and themes.