Louise Meriwether Analysis


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987. This best, comprehensive study of the African American novel places Daddy Was a Number Runner in its context. This novel about growing up black in Harlem, Bell argues, is a Bildungsroman and an example of traditional realism.

Dandridge, Rita B. “From Economic Insecurity to Disintegration: A Study of Character in Louise Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner.” Negro American Literature Forum 9 (Fall, 1975): 82-85. Argues that “the three interacting factors in the novel—economic insecurity, loss of self-esteem, and self-debasement—all operate in the life of each of the Coffins and contribute to the disintegration of the family unit.”

Duboin, Corinne. “Race, Gender, and Space: Louise Meriwether’s Harlem in Daddy Was a Number Runner.” CLA Journal 45, no. 1 (September, 2001): 26-40. Argues that Meriwether’s novel “has been somewhat neglected by literary critics.”

Kaymer, David. Review of Fragments of the Ark, by Louise Meriwether. Library Journal 119, no. 1 (January, 1994). A positive review.

McKay, Nellie. Afterword to Daddy Was a Number Runner, by Louise Meriwether. New York: Feminist Press, 1986. A detailed analysis of the historical context of the book, which McKay calls the “personal side of the story of living and growing up feeling entrapped by race and class in the black urban ghetto between the two great wars.”

Wade-Gayles, Gloria Jean. No Crystal Stair: Visions of Race and Gender in Black Women’s Fiction. Rev. ed. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1997. Meriwether’s first novel is mentioned.

Walker, Melissa. “Harbingers of Change: Harlem.” In Down from the Mountaintop: Black Women’s Novels in the Wake of the Civil Rights Movement, 1966-1989. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991. This chapter contains an excellent analysis of Daddy Was a Number Runner that shows how “the protagonist’s determined effort to acquire historical sensibility” is at the center of the novel. Argues that Francie “matures as she learns to understand how the public arena informs private lives.”