In the short story "To Da-duh in Memoriam" by Paule Marshall, the narrator reminisces about a visit to her grandmother, who is over eighty years old, on the island of Barbados when she is only nine years old. Her first impression of her grandmother's stooped figure and ravaged face is that she is very old but that her eyes are young, with "a sharp light" and "a child's curiosity about the world." The narrator wonders "whether she might not be some kind of child at the same time she was a woman." Then she considers that maybe her grandmother is "both child and woman" with "all the opposites contained and reconciled in her."
The narrator's grandmother is a woman, of course, because she has had fourteen children and shows obvious signs of great age. She behaves like a child, though, through her exuberance and curiosity about life. Her exuberance manifests in the way that she takes her grandchild around showing her unique features of the island, such as the cane fields, the fruit trees, and the tropical woods. She shows her curiosity in listening with fascination to all the stories her grandchild tells her about New York.
Eventually, the childish light in the narrator's grandmother is dimmed by everything she hears about New York. She has been proud and even boastful about the wonders of her native land, but the more she hears about the marvels of New York, the more subdued she gets. She becomes less childlike. Her age begins to overwhelm her, and finally she dies. When the narrator writes of later living alone "as one doing penance," she is admitting that she feels partially responsible for taking away her grandmother's childish spirit with her grandiose tales of the marvels of New York.