for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf

by Ntozake Shange
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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 652

Lady in Red

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Lady in Red, the dominant character in this work (she has the largest number of lines). She recites the most violent and emotionally moving poems in the drama, including those that demonstrate the brutality and anguish endured and experienced by African American women. Like all the other characters in the drama, she has a feminist point of view. She recites poems titled “no assistance,” “latent rapists,” “one,” and “a nite with beau willie brown.” In “no assistance,” she berates a lover who has failed to assist her in developing and maintaining a relationship; in “latent rapists,” she points out that rapists often are known to their victims; in “one,” she portrays the image of a glittering seductress who cries herself to sleep after her romantic activities; and in “a nite with beau willie brown,” she tells the story of a crazed Vietnam veteran who throws his children out the window. Her pieces address the major themes of the drama.

Lady in Orange

Lady in Orange, a poet and a dancer. With a feminist outlook, she expresses a love of the arts of poetry, song, and dance in the poems “i’m a poet who” and “no more love poems #1.” The first poem declares that she is a poet who wants to write, sing, and dance but who cannot communicate with people anymore. In the second poem, she declares that she needs love even though the world considers her to be evil and a nag, thereby expounding on a primary theme in the drama, the misunderstanding of women and failures of communication between men and women.

Lady in Yellow

Lady in Yellow, who represents youth and liveliness. She recites “graduation night,” a selection about a fun night of dancing, parties, and lost virginity, and “no more love poems #3,” about the unfortunate dependence of women on sources outside themselves for love. The author uses this poem to affirm the drama’s assertion that strength must be found inside oneself and in the friendship and support of other women.

Lady in Green

Lady in Green, called Sechita, a dancer in a poem that is strong with images of Egyptian royalty and mixed with references to New Orleans “conjurin.” Sechita has performed in many places and has taken her mystical and magical aura along with her sometimes tattered appearance. She recites the lively and amusing poem “somebody almost walked off with alla my stuff,” which affirms the need to find strength within oneself.

Lady in Purple

Lady in Purple, who expresses the need for mutual support and understanding among women in the poem “pyramid.” In “no more love poems #2,” she begs her lover to allow her to love him, furthering the theme of unrequited love found throughout the drama.

Lady in Blue

Lady in Blue, who is given somber pieces, as symbolized by the color she wears. The poem “i used to live in the world” portrays an isolated character trapped by a six-block section of Harlem, her universe, thus demonstrating the tragedy of a woman without supportive female companions. In “sorry,” she points out the uselessness of the word, along with all the ramifications of the word when used as an excuse after inflicting pain on someone. In “no more love poems #3,” she asserts her need for love. These poems demonstrate the tragedy that isolation and pain cause in the lives of black women.

Lady in Brown

Lady in Brown, dressed in a neutral color not of the rainbow. She introduces the choreopoem by reciting the first major poem. She deals with the earthly matters of the world that her color denotes through her recitations of “dark phases,” a poem about the pain and misunderstanding that often accompany the youth of black women, and “toussaint,” a piece with historical, social, and cultural significance as...

(The entire section contains 1331 words.)

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Critical Essays