In Mama Day, why does Cocoa seem so wary of men and so cynical about people in general? What terms does she use to describe other African Americans, whites, Asians, and Jews? What is George's later comment about this habit?

We notice how Cocoa's cynical attitude links to her general attitude toward New York City. She describes a city that seems to reduce humans to machines, animals, or, when it comes to men, a transaction centered on food, alcohol, and sex. Before meeting George, she doesn't feel connected to the city. Her detachment produces scathing comments about various groups. However, after meeting George, she undergoes a change. "You stopped calling people food," notes George.

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There are many reasons why Cocoa might be scornful or "cynical" about people. One reason might be her location.

When Cocoa is in New York, she’s quite cutting. Her observations reduce humans to machines or animals. She describes a coffee shop as "designed for assembly-line nutrition." She portrays job interviews...

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There are many reasons why Cocoa might be scornful or "cynical" about people. One reason might be her location.

When Cocoa is in New York, she’s quite cutting. Her observations reduce humans to machines or animals. She describes a coffee shop as "designed for assembly-line nutrition." She portrays job interviews as a "cattle call." Perhaps if Cocoa wasn't in one of the most crowded and busy cities in the world, she wouldn't have so much to excoriate.

Think about how the superficial, material nature of New York contrasts with Mama Day's immaterial mysticism. As Coco says about the New York Times: "You know, there are more pages in their Help Wanted section than in the telephone book here in Willow Springs."

When Cocoa describes her and her friends' interactions with men, they're centered on consumerism and status. She tells about the restaurants, the seats at the Broadway show, and how she's stereotyped because of the color of her skin. As Cocoa says, "Those were awful times for a single woman in that city of yours."

Let's stay on that quote for a second. She calls New York "that city of yours." That suggests that it's not hers—that's she like a visitor or a foreigner. Her separateness might make it easier for her to be scathing. We might think about how her flippant, insensitive remarks about Asians, Jews, and other groups are a reflection of her feelings of alienation.

It's interesting to note how meeting George seems to make her less mean about New York City. "You stopped calling people food," says George. She also learned the difference between Chinese people and Korean people, between German Jews and Russian Jews, and so on.

You might want to think how finding George helps Cocoa find her place in New York. Once she feels connected, she feels less threatened. Her cantankerous attitude seems to cool off.

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