To Da-duh in Memoriam Themes

Themes

Rivalry
The story pits an aging Barbadian grandmother against her youthful American granddaughter. Upon their first meeting, the two sense a similarity in each other that far outweighs the differences presented by the seventy years between them. Most importantly, each has a stubborn strength of will and a confidence that her way of regarding the world is the right way.

The characters knowingly participate in this rivalry. Da-duh has the knowledge that comes with age and experience, but the narrator has the brash confidence of youth. Da-duh has her pride of place, showing off her land with its lush plants, trees, and cane fields. The narrator has the technological superiority of the modern world, which she uses to goad her grandmother into silent submission; Da-duh is not impressed by technology, but it is so foreign to her that she cannot even conceive of her granddaughter’s descriptions of life in New York. The story ends with the narrator’s victory in this rivalry, which makes her feel somewhat sad because she knows that her success only comes as a result of her grandmother’s concession.

Time
As the oldest and youngest characters presented in the story, Da-duh and the narrator represent the span of time and its cyclical nature. Marshall writes in the last paragraph, ‘‘She died and I lived’’; in a sense, the role that Da-duh occupied in the family has passed on to the narrator. She dies to make way for her granddaughter and the world, period, and change that she symbolizes.

The grandmother and granddaughter also represent how the passing of time changes the world, forcing its older members to be left behind. The granddaughter’s triumph at the end of her visit illustrates that in many ways the world truly belongs to the new generation. This theme is further reinforced...

(The entire section is 753 words.)