Mama Day

Mama Day

by Gloria Naylor


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Mama Day 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day proves well worth the read through a reflection of history. Firstly, the novel derives directly from slavery and how male slave owners often treated their female slaves. Mama Day follows the descendants of Sapphira Wade, a former slave who convinced her master to free his slaves and give them the deed to his land, afterward killing him. Sapphira’s legacy lives on throughout the novel, with Mama Day stating, “It ain’t about right or wrong, truth or lies, it’s about a slave woman who brought a whole new meaning to both them worlds, soon as you cross over here from beyond the bridge,” (Naylor 3). Sapphira Wade represents how male slave owners would often begin relationships with their slaves, using and discarding them whenever they pleased. The anomaly, however, lies within Sapphira’s power over her owner. Sapphira, unlike other slaves, has the power to change her fortune through conjuring. Her power changes the traditional narrative of helpless slaves into one more empowering and positive. Likewise, the traditional narrative further shifts through land ownership: “And the laws about slaves not owning nothing in Georgia and South Carolina don’t apply, ‘cause the land wasn’t then — and isn’t now — in either of them places,” (Naylor 5). Gloria Naylor paints a positive picture for Sapphira’s descendants, giving them the power of land ownership, a power vastly unseen during this period. Without slavery in general, Mama Day and other books reclaiming power for African Americans during this period could not exist. Furthermore, the culture and attitudes of the characters in Mama Day directly result from traditional African culture. African culture shapes the novel through the representation of a close-knit community, natural healing methods, and conjuring. Residents of Willow Springs watch out for one another, evident through Mama Day’s role as a healer in the community: “Miranda washes off the choke-cherry bark and then cuts a piece about the size of the last joint on her little finger. She has to be careful about this stuff — awful careful. It could kill as easy as cure,” (Naylor 82). Mama Day uses natural products when caring for others, a characteristic common in traditional African healing. Naylor’s depiction of Mama Day and her methods would not be possible without countless years of practice and history behind those methods. Additionally, the representation of conjuring in the novel would not exist without traditional African culture. “The shell dries and grows cold under the hidden moon. One pair of eyes unblinking, one pair frowns and smashes the egg into the porch steps… the moon inching towards the horizon… takes the egg while the shell’s still pulsing and wet, breaks it, and eats,” (Naylor 139). When her friend Bernice struggles with infertility, Mama Day performs a ritual in an attempt to aid her. Naylor’s inclusion of this scene results from African conjure methods and resources. The realism throughout Mama Day through conjuring and healing methods presents a narrative vastly unseen in most literature. Naylor’s ability to focus on African culture instead of slavery for most of the novel shows the progress literature and society has made in the past century. History has made Naylor’s portrayal of strong black women and their triumph over struggles possible, making Mama Day a novel well worth the read.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If someone, like David Wroblewski, wants to write a tragedy he should read a little Gloria Naylor to get some perspective on how it should be done. This is a powerful book with noble people - Mama Day, the matriarch we'd all want to turn to for strength, her loving sister Abigail, the fierce Cocoa, the proud and practical George. There's also a trifling worthless man, a colorful character and a mountainous example of wobbly malevolence. The people all interact in a beautiful nowhere island where time passes as it passes and nature, love and loss rule all. Recommended for anyone who wants to experience literature at its best.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story filled with the magic of full rich characters,most of them strong and loving women. Much of it takes placeon Willow Island, a barrier island off the shores of Georgia andSouth Carolina. The residents of Willow Island live a life similarto that which their ancestors lived a hundred years before. While theydid have modern conveniences, they certainly didn't depend on them for happiness. Love, family and tradition ruled their day. Mama day, Abigail, Cocoa, Ruby and more. They all have their own story, and they tell it, or have it told in rich mellow voices. Idon't know how anyone can read this book and not love Mama Day and Abigail. And they have within them a magic all their own. A knowing that has been lostto most over the generations. I have to believe that they are based on women known by the author, otherwise how did she make them so real? Andif they are not, all the more kudos to their creator. Cocoa, a younger woman from their family spends most of her time in NewYork City, where she lives, works and falls in love. She too, is quitea force, but often more negative then she should be. We find out in the story how life changes her.
lewispike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story in parts - Mama Day strides across most of it like a colossus. I want to call her the matriarch, but she's not a mother. Perhaps the high priestess is a better description.Cocoa, her grand-niece, and George, Cocoa's husband who ultimately sacrifices himself to save Cocoa's life because he can't understand the world he is in.And that's the other part of this story. Mama Day lives in a world that we might call magical, although she denies she "does that Hoodoo nonsense." Cocoa crosses that world to the everyday world of job hunting, marriage, dinner parties and the like. George is firmly based in the mundane - he's an engineer who never has the grand idea, but takes the grand ideas of others and turns them into hard reality.The clash of these ideas and worlds makes for a compelling, fascinating book. Unusually to my mind, George is the character that I strongly suspect most of us will relate to - he's the everyman that relates to this wild, old, confusing world in which his wife grew up.
Antheras on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favourite novels and the book that helped me discover the work of Gloria Naylor. The magical realism reminds one of the works of Isabel Allende. For fans of southern American literature, this is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
victorian86 More than 1 year ago
I think Naylor is one of America's most under-rated writers. This story captures a culture unknown to most of us but the story draws us in and involves us almost immediately. It has a love story, a coming of age story, magic realism, and family and community struggles. It asks you to think about what is important, even as you laugh out loud at the silly things we do. I frequently share this book with reading groups and it is always a favorite.
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of-course More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a women's fiction class and I loved it. The relationship between George and Cocoa and the mystical forces kept me interested the whole way through the novel because i wanted to know what was going to happen next. There are some very wierd occurences, but they make the book more interesting....and they kept me thinking about what happened long after I had finished reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of books by the current crop of black authors but nothing has touched me and made me fall totally in love with a book like Mama Day. This book was brilliant and I couldn't put it down until it was over. A good book is one of those books that you're actually sad when it's over. That was Mama Day for me. I have not read a book that comes close to it yet and I probably never will. If you have to read this book for school or a book club, I hope you enjoy it. If you want a book that is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, this book is a MUST READ!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great. It took a while to read, but it is good, and I would recommend that anyone to read it.