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 Miranda, and grandmother to Cocoa. Instead of embracing the pain Abigail experienced through out her life and turning it into something positive for herself and others, she tried to change the past, and that only left her with more pain. Abigail was the middle child of three sisters. When Peace her younger sister fell in a well, their father and mother became distant with each other and in the end her mother threw herself off a cliff because she could not deal with the pain. When talking about her mother Miranda says, “Mother hardly cooked at all. And later she didn’t eat much. Later she didn’t do nothing but sit in that rocker… Too much sorrow…much too much. And I was too young to give [her] peace. Even Abigail tried and failed”(243). When Abigail was younger her father carved wood and “Abigail, [tried] to form with flesh what her daddy couldn’t form from wood”(262). Her whole childhood was spent trying to make up for her sister’s death.
After her mother’s death, Abigail still tried to giv...
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...nted it to. Mama Day tells Bernice, “Folks say I can do things that most can’t do. Whether that’s true or not, I am willing to help you”(87). Mama Day devised a plan to help Bernice keep her body busy and her mind off of getting pregnant. All the people of Willow Springs admired the weight that Bernice put on and the strength she was developing. When these tactics did not work Mama Day promised to go to the Other Place and help Bernice in a way that Bernice would have to keep a secret forever.
Mama Day was the wisest of the three women. She realized that there had been a lot of pain in her life and her family’s history, but she took the pain and turned it into something positive for herself and those around her. She didn’t try to change it like Abigail or ignore it like Cocoa. She embraced it, and helped to change the lives of many people because of it.
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