New York vs. Willow Springs in Mama Day Essay example

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New York vs. Willow Springs in Mama Day

The soft island breeze blows across the sound and the smell of the sea fills the air in Willow Springs. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away in Lower Manhattan the smell of garbage and street vendors’ hotdogs hangs in the air. These two settings are key to Gloria Naylor’s 1988 novel Mama Day where the freedom and consistency of the Sea Islands is poised against the confinement of the ever-changing city, two settings that not only changes characters’ personalities but also their perceptions. On the surface the two places seem to share no similarities and represent different aspects. There are, however, some similarities, among which is the effect of the setting on the characters. Naylor
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While the city had its positive attributes, sometimes the young people get wrapped up in the negative aspects of the city. George also realizes that New York is a place where people, especially young people, restrict themselves.

On a date to tour the city, George tells Cocoa that “Most people are confined to ghettos by economic circumstances…. the young and talented confine themselves by choice” (Naylor 65). The city is an often cruel, unfair place where “there was little enough of [kindness]…to kill off in one shot” (Naylor 59). It is also sometimes an unfriendly place; the city has a kind of cold, informal aura about it. Take for example, the description Cocoa uses to describe the waitress service at the restaurant: “especially when the check came glued to the bottom of your dessert plate…watching a big greasy thumbprint spread slowly over the Thank You printed on the back” (Naylor 13). The unfriendliness is enough for a Southern girl like Cocoa to turn her back on the city and not give it a chance, as so many others had.

George could not turn his back on New York City because the city had never turned its back on him, even when he had absolutely nothing. The effects of being raised in this sometimes cruel, yet prosperous environment is evident in the life of George Andrews; he represents not only the harsh

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