Gloria Naylor Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How is Gloria Naylor’s religious background evident in her novels?

How has feminism influenced the characters and themes of Naylor’s novels?

In what senses are Naylor’s novels gothic or melodramatic?

Discuss Naylor’s use of weather imagery.

Are Naylor’s male characters well rounded or stereotypical?

How are the seven stories in The Women of Brewster Place unified thematically?

Compare the characters and themes of The Women of Brewster Place and The Men of Brewster Place.

How is Linden Hills an attack upon middle-class African American values?

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In 1986, Gloria Naylor wrote a column, Hers, for The New York Times. She is also the writer of a number of screenplays, short stories, and articles for various periodicals. She is known primarily, however, for her novels.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Enjoying both critical and popular acclaim, Gloria Naylor’s work has reached a wide audience. The Women of Brewster Place won the 1983 American Book Award for best first novel and was later made into a television miniseries. Naylor’s other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1985 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988.

Surveying the range of African American life in the United States, from poor ghetto to affluent suburb to southern offshore island, Naylor’s work examines questions of black identity and, in particular, celebrates black women. In the face of enormous problems and frequent victimization, black women are shown coping through their sense of community and their special powers. Male readers might find less to cheer about in Naylor’s early works, as she writes from a feminist perspective. Later works, however, recognize the plight of black males, acknowledging their struggles and celebrating their achievements. Though Naylor’s focus is the black experience, her depictions of courage, community, and cultural identity have universal appeal.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Braxton, Joanne M., and Andrée Nicola McLaughlin, eds. Wild Women in the Whirlwind: Afro-American Culture and the Contemporary Literary Renaissance. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1990. This wide-ranging collection of critical articles brings the cultural history of black women’s writing up to the 1980’s. Barbara Smith’s article “The Truth That Never Hurts: Black Lesbians in Fiction in the 1980’s” discusses the section of The Women of Brewster Place entitled “The Two,” but other articles also bear indirectly on important themes in Naylor.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., and K. A. Appiah, eds. Gloria Naylor: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad, 1993. An excellent source for reviews and essays.

Kelley, Margot Anne, ed. Gloria Naylor’s Early Novels. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999. A good study of Naylor’s early works. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Montgomery, Maxine Lavon. “Authority, Multivocality, and the New World Order in Gloria Naylor’s Bailey’s Café.” African American Review 29, no. 1 (Spring, 1995): 27. Montgomery discusses Bailey’s Café as a woman-centered work that draws on black art forms and biblical allusions. Though she fails to recognize the true identity of...

(The entire section is 549 words.)