To Da-duh in Memoriam

by Paule Marshall

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What is Da-Duh's first reaction to the child?  

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When Da-duh first meets her young granddaughter in the shed where Da-duh's family got off the boat from New York City, Da-duh is taken back by what she sees.  She scrutinizes her granddaughter as if trying to decide who she is.  The narrator says, “Instead of leaning close, she peered hard at me, and then quickly drew back.” Da-dah and her granddaughter stare at each other, and Da-duh is the first to look away.  Da-duh sees something different in her granddaughter and later describes the fierceness she sees in her granddaughter’s eyes.

Da-duh is definitely the matriarch of the family and rules over them.  Her daughter and other granddaughter appear to be afraid of Da-duh because she is so judgmental and straightforward. Da-duh, however, has met her match in her youngest granddaughter, and she realizes that she is not so easy to control. She may also see a lot of herself through her granddaughter's spunk and confidence. Da-duh takes her granddaughter under her wing to teach her the ways of Barbados, but in the end, it is Da-duh who is changed by the stories of New York City that her granddaughter tells her.

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