Critical Context (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series)
Gwendolyn Brooks wrote poetry for and about children. The boys and girls in Bronzeville are more imaginative than the children in her later works Aloneness (1971) and The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves (1974). Even though some of the children in the poems are poor, other children are advised to share what they have with them. Still other children survive their limited environment by using their minds to escape. Brooks believed in her children; her Bronzeville boys and girls are survivors. Like the adults in her poetry, these children are not sheltered from the socioeconomic and human rights problems that confront adults. These children survive because they use their imaginations to cope with stark reality.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls captures the natural wonder of childhood while offering a hint of social protest. Even though the protest or comment is not too biting, Brooks may have written this collection of poetry as a social statement. There are many poems, however, that seem to originate from within the child who is looking out at the world—such as Tommy, whose seed popped out without “consulting” him. While the title Bronzeville Boys and Girls implies that these poems are only about the experiences and fantasies of Bronzeville youngsters, these poems are true portraits of young people from everywhere interpreting life as they see it.