Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Eva’s plight is recounted in a fragmented, stream-of-consciousness manner. The only organizer is the memory, jumping from one moment in time to another, backward then forward, sometimes by chapter, sometimes by page, sometimes by line. Often a reader is in doubt for a moment about place and character, but the logic of the jump is always clear, for the memory is jolted by specific words and images. She describes watching from behind, as a child, as the Queen Bee crossed the street: “She had a little waist and big hips.” Suddenly she shifts to a conversation with Davis, who tells her, “You got the kind of ass that a woman should show off.”

Eva’s Man is a statement about the life of one black woman and, from her point of view, an indictment against men, perhaps black men. All of Eva’s men have thrust themselves upon her, both figuratively and literally, and she has been defenseless against their abuses. Her defenselessness is partly because they impose their desires on her and partly because she desires them at the same time that she resents and fears them. She longs for a kind of love that they cannot give her, so she feels like “her heart is in her draws.” She, like her mother before her, is never asked, “How do you feel?” but is repeatedly asked, “How does it feel?” It is being treated as an object, a body, that she resents, and Jones makes this clear by the repetition of images of blood, milk, and semen. Even these...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Like Corregidora, Eva’s Man is a blues story concentrating on the tension between pain and pleasure in human relationships. Additionally, it is, as Jones has said in interviews, a horror story. The novel explores the interior geography or psychic terrain of a woman’s mind. Unlike Ursa Corregidora, who finds release in singing her blues and who accepts an uneasy psychological balance through reconciliation, Eva, psychotic, strikes back violently at the world which she holds responsible for her blues. She finds no release through song—she has no creative outlet; she finds no comfort in quiescent acceptance of the sexual role allotted to women. Locked away from the world and further insulated, Eva confronts her personal history, haltingly articulating her blues to the clinically distant white psychiatrist or to her black fellow inmate, a woman almost as unstable as Eva. The horror at the heart of her story is the violence that Eva felt compelled to commit. Eva’s Man leaves quickly the territory of social realism to journey into psychological realism. After the sociological details of her upbringing and environment have been carefully sifted, what remains significant, what is true and important for Eva to understand, is why she mutilated Davis, how she felt about it, and what it meant to her.

In Eva’s Man, as in Corregidora, Jones uses sex as the novel’s controlling metaphor. In Eva’s Man,...

(The entire section is 452 words.)