Toni Cade Bambara American Literature Analysis
In fulfilling her roles as teacher, social worker, filmmaker, editor, and author, Bambara always considered herself first and foremost a social activist, an agent for positive change, so it is no surprise that her characters take up this clarion call. Most of the women and many of the men who populate her stories are oppressed by the social institutions and attitudes that surround them, but few are beaten down. In situation after situation, they rise above their circumstances and triumph.
The character of Hazel “Squeaky” Parker who appears in the stories “Gorilla, My Love” and “Raymond’s Run” is a case in point. A lanky black girl at odds with conventional standards of femininity, she does not hide her supposed eccentricities but flaunts them. Her long legs, the source of her incredible speed, are an embarrassment to her mother, who wishes she would hide them behind a skirt. Instead Squeaky glories in them:I’ll high-prance down 34th Street like a rodeo pony to keep my knees strong even if it does get my mother uptight so that she walks ahead like she’s not with me, don’t know me, is all by herself on a shopping trip, and I am somebody else’s crazy child.
The importance of knowledge for both individual growth and the collective good is often stressed in Bambara’s stories, even if the intended recipients are reluctant learners. In the widely anthologized short story “The Lesson” from Gorilla, My Love, a...
(The entire section is 2539 words.)
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