(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

While Daughters appears at first to be based on a conflict between two different cultures, both of which have shaped Ursa Beatrice Mackenzie, as the novel proceeds it becomes clear that in fact there is little difference between the black society of Triunion and that to be found in Hartford, Connecticut, or among the young professionals of New York City. North or South, black men posture, preen, and betray the causes they pretend to embrace, while black women support the men psychologically if not financially, rear their children, and provide whatever stability there is.

In the statue representing Congo Jane and Will Cudjoe, Triunion’s long-dead freedom fighters, Ursa saw an ideal relationship between men and women. Yet even when black men and women share the same values, things seem to go wrong. Although he considers himself enlightened, Ursa’s lover is not interested in her projects or problems; indeed, he is interested in very little beyond the petty office infighting that affects him directly. Instead of admiring her for quitting a lucrative job to work for social betterment, Lowell criticizes Ursa for making a foolish decision. Ursa’s disappointment in her lover is not unlike her mother’s disappointment in the young, idealistic husband she married. Instead of working beside him for the betterment of their people, Estelle finds herself relegated to a ceremonial position. Moreover, Primus has willingly let himself be seduced by another...

(The entire section is 573 words.)