Brown Girl, Brownstones Essay - Critical Essays

Paule Marshall

Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series Brown Girl, Brownstones Analysis

Brown Girl, Brownstones is a novel of Selina’s growth from an immature ten-year-old to a self-confident young woman on the threshold of adulthood. Adolescence, in general, is a difficult time, and in Selina’s case the problems are compounded by the fact that her parents are immigrants trying to make a place for themselves in a new country. The West Indian community depicted in the novel prides itself in its members’ ability to work hard, save money, and acquire property in order to achieve the American Dream of success. People such as Deighton Boyce and Clive Springer who do not follow the norm are looked down on by the community.

Selina’s life is further complicated by her inability to understand the love-hate relationship between her parents. Silla wants Deighton to be like other West Indian men and be a financial success. Selina feels closer to her father, who dwells in the nostalgic memories of his homeland and lacks the tenacity to stick to a goal and achieve it. She is turned off by her mother’s single-minded devotion to making money. She is baffled and irritated by her sister Ina’s complacent attitude, not realizing that Ina’s turn to religion and desire for an unruffled life is her way of coping with the discord at home. Yet, even as Selina openly derides her mother’s ways, she cannot help admiring her strength, determination, and ability to express herself.

Like most adolescents, Selina is unsure of her own identity. Initially, she desires to be like her...

(The entire section is 619 words.)