Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 213

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, is a fictionalized personal memoir, the story of the author's life in the segregated South during a time of social and political change. It is through her experiences in this environment that Jackie herself changes, and Woodson’s story recounts her struggle to find her identity during the social unrest of the 1960s. The themes in the novel explore the significance of family, the acceptance of change, the importance of diversity, and the value of hope as the driving forces in the pursuit of a life based on personal passions.

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Jackie has a large, extended family that helps mold her life and outlook. Growing up during the civil rights era plays a defining role as well. As a published memoir by a black American woman, the book itself shows the power of diversity. It also speaks to Woodson’s passionate belief that a diverse population of people can make important contributions to American literary tradition. The title conveys the idea of hope and its role in overcoming hardship. Despite personal trials and conflicts, the story of Jackie’s journey to become a writer attests to the power of hope in pursuing one’s dreams, and in continuing to pursue them through times of personal conflict and unrest.

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