[There are a number of critical essays available online from the internet library sources such as JSTOR. In addition, here on Enotes there are criticisms; see the link below to access them.]
--One criticism from The Black Scholar, written by Adam David Miller, entitled "Black Battles" (http://www.jstor.org/stable/41206382) examines the role of the father in Marshall's novel, asserting that he is central to the frustrations of his wife Silla, and in turn to the confusion of his daughter Selina. Silla's internal monologues reveal much of her angst; she is her own character, but she is also representative of all Bajan women, and she struggles to find her place as a black woman in America while Deighton clings to his Barbadian culture and disassociates himself from the American blacks. Silla resists the belief that their being Barbadians is destiny and embraces the American concept of individualism as a value. Selina still feels her Barbadian identity, but she frees herself from her father in her act of disconnecting from the lover with whom she connected in an effort to be like her father.
--Another criticism from The Black Scholar written by Joyce Pettis entitled "Qualities of Endurance: Paule Marshall's Brown Girl, Brownstones(http://www.jstor.org/stable/4106887) discusses how this book, written forty years ago, has endured and its content is now more accepted and better understood.
--Yet another criticism from The Black Scholar written by Lisa D. McGill entitled "Thinking Back Through the Mother: The Poetics of Place and the Mother/Daughter Dyad in Brown Girl, Brownstones" (http://www.jstor.org/stable/41068880) discusses how the modern matrophobia trope does not fit this novel. For, the "maternal discourse" is not a negative.
The womanist perspective of Paule Marshall is interestingly embedded in a sisterhood that celebrates a connection to American mothers. The black dyad in her fiction is presented as antagonistic, but loving; problematic, but central to the daughter's creation of an affirmed self.
McGill contends that the split between Silla and Selina is not possible; nor is it desirable because Selina's narrative is "undergirded by her mother's presence." For, women must "think back through their mothers in order to define themselves." (Marshall makes this presence of Silla all the more real with her internal monologues that are in each chapter.)
As often the case with mothers and daughters, there is a love/hate relationship between Serina and Silla. Forming a friendship with the independent Suggie represents Serina's strongest attempt to disconnect from"the archetypal Barbadian mother in the United States." With her flippant attitude regarding economic progress and her earthy sexual appetite, Suggie propels Selina toward forming her own self and developing a sisterhood that trangresses the boundaries of Silla's Bajan-American identity. Thus, the street where Suggie positions herself becomes the antithesis of the Brownstone maternal autonomy.