Praisesong for the Widow

by Paule Marshall

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What is the significance of the Ibos' landing to Avey in Praisesong for the Widow?

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The landing of the Ibos is significant for Avey because, when her great Aunt Cuney tells this story to her for the first time, she learns about how some African slaves resisted their captors. As she recalls this story over and over again throughout the narrative, she begins to realize that she, too, can refuse to do as she is told. For her, though, resisting authority means resisting popular culture, which encourages her (as initially an underprivileged African American) to conform to white, middle-class standards. Like the Ibos, who simply walked away from their captors (as the legend goes), Avey can simply give up pretending to be someone she is not.

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