I have to write research essay for my English class from Gloria Naylor's Linden Hills. The theme I have chosen to write about is repression, however I need help with my thesis statement. Also, do...

I have to write research essay for my English class from Gloria Naylor's Linden Hills. The theme I have chosen to write about is repression, however I need help with my thesis statement. Also, do you have a study guide on Linden Hills?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Gloria Naylor’s novel Linden Hills is an expression of the author’s broadly-held (among African Americans) concerns regarding the moral and spiritual sacrifice the African American community has made in its struggle to overcome economic adversity and the legacy of desegregation. So deeply do these concerns run in Naylor’s prose, that she went so far with Linden Hills as to adapt Dante’s Seven Circles of Hell from his Divine Comedy as a metaphor for the moral descent of middle-class blacks with her fictitious community central to the novel.  As the eNotes essay on Naylor’s novel and the additional material for which a link is provided below demonstrate, this interpretation of Linden Hills is widely shared among critics and analysts.  In constructing a thesis on Naylor’s book, therefore, one could logically focus on the theme of repression as one of moral decline.  Racism certainly plays a prominent role in Linden Hills. Indeed, the community grew out of the frustrations endured by blacks attempting to carve out their part of the American Dream, as occurred in real life in towns across the South. These communities became the breeding ground for the growth of more affluent black communities as African Americans succeeded in climbing the socioeconomic ladder.  In Naylor’s story, however, the regressive structure of the neighborhood in which her characters live reflects the aforementioned moral and spiritual sacrifices made in the name of material progress. At one point in her novel, Naylor has the Reverend Michael Hollis, whose own descent into alcoholism and spiritual ambivalence is a reflection of his transition from Baptism to Episcopalian (read: mainstream Caucasian) make the following comments to his parishioners:

"Are you ready for death?... Will the fancy homes, fancy clothes and fancy cars make you ready? Will the big bucks and the big jobs make you ready? Didn't make Lazarus ready. Didn't make Mary and Martha ready. Even if they had had all those things, they weren't prepared."

Reverend Hollis’ denunciation of materialism is appropriately regarded cynically by those in attendance, but his comments are representative of Naylor’s theme, also reflected in the comments of Lester, one of the neighborhood’s aspiring poet’s, grandmother, who points out that the class-consciousness of the community has deprived that community of its soul.

To conclude, then, a thesis statement on Linden Hills that focuses on the theme of “repression” can logically discuss the moral repression to which the residents of the community have subjected themselves by virtue of their materialism and class-consciousness, which are best represented by the neighborhood’s leading figure, Luther Nedeed – himself Naylor’s stand-in for Satan (“Luther,” the name of all the family males down generations, translating for literary purposes from “Lucifer.”)

The eNotes study guide to Linden Hills is available at the link below and includes a summary and lots of helpful analysis to further help you in your reading.

Sources:

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