Mama Day is the eponymous character from a novel by the author Gloria Naylor , published in 1988. In the story, Mama (real name, Miranda) Day is a descendant of slaves, and she lives on a private island, left to the Day family by their slave master when they were...
Mama Day is the eponymous character from a novel by the author Gloria Naylor, published in 1988. In the story, Mama (real name, Miranda) Day is a descendant of slaves, and she lives on a private island, left to the Day family by their slave master when they were freed in 1823. As suggested by her name, Mama Day is the matriarch on the island. People come to her for advice and help, particularly on matters pertaining to love and sex.
Mama Day is known as an old, wise, respected woman, and also as a woman with mystical healing powers and prophetic abilities. She often visits a place known as "the other place," where she will commune with her ancestors, and draw power from them. Mama Day also uses her knowledge of the forest to make tonics and medicinal teas. One instance in which Mama Day uses her powers is when she helps a younger woman (Bernice Duvall) to get pregnant. She also helps her great-niece, Cocoa, to overcome a voodoo spell that has been cast against her, as well as taking retribution against the woman who cast the spell, in part by calling upon the lightning to strike the house of the culprit, Ruby. Mama Day does not call her powers, as others do, magic. She says that she simply sees what is there in front of her.
Mama day throughout the story is also closely associated with nature, in part because when she was a child she would roam across the island. As mentioned above, she uses the trees on the island to make medicines. She also is fond of her chickens, and reads their body language to determine the weather. The chickens also, rather helpfully, dig up hexes planted by Ruby.
As a child, Mama Day lost her own mother, and was forced, therefore, to look after herself, and others in her family. This is when she acquired the nickname, "Little Mama." Losing her own mother perhaps also helps to explain why she is so protective of Cocoa, who also has no mother in the story. Miranda undoubtedly sees much of herself in Cocoa. Indeed, during the story Cocoa inherits the prophetic abilities of Mama Day, and Mama Day says of Cocoa, "it's more than my blood flows in her and more hands that can lay claim to her than these" (294).