Gloria Naylor's Mama Day Essay

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Gloria Naylor's Mama Day

In 1988 Gloria Naylor wrote the novel Mama Day in hopes to show the world that one can either accept the hand they are dealt and make it come out to the advantage of themselves and others, or one can hide from their pain and live a life scared of what may come in the future. Mama Day is set on an island off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia that is inhabited by the descendants of a slave population. The main characters in the novel; Ophelia, Abigail and Miranda, also called Mama Day, all experienced a lot of pain in their lives; it is how they chose to deal with their experiences that sets them apart from each other.

Abigail Day is an older member of the Willow Springs' community, sister to
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Mama Day begged her not to do it, but Abigail did it anyway -- “Peace was gone…and now Peace is gone again”(95). The second Peace, Abigail’s first daughter, died before she had a crib name. Because Abigail was trying so hard to make it up to her mother and give her peace, her own daughter died.

In the history of the Day family there is a place, an Other Place. At the Other Place there is an uninhabited house where Miranda and Abigail grew up, and also the well where their sister Peace died. Abigail refused to return to this place throughout her adult life. Naylor stated, “[She] hat[ed] the place so much that she hadn’t set foot there in over fifty years.” The only time Abigail returned was to tell her sister about Cocoa’s is illness and that she must come home to help her. Abigail was never able accept the difficulties in her life; she only tried to make them different and this caused her more pain.

Ophelia, also called Cocoa, was Mama Day’s great-niece and Abigail’s granddaughter; the two women raised her, and she said, “together they were the perfect mother” (58). She grew up in Willow Springs but moved to the mainland as soon as she could. Cocoa knew all about her past and had also experienced pain in her own life, but she chose to live her life day-by-day without trying to build on what had happened to her in the past. The story is unclear about her mother’s death, but it is does say that she carried vengeance in her heart and named her

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