Summary-Literary Analysis of Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean by Gloria Naylor

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In “Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?”, author Gloria Naylor explains throughout her piece that reality shapes language and language can shape reality. Naylor explains this, “chicken or the egg dispute” (Naylor 1) through her experiences with the word nigger. Gloria explains how she starts on one side of reality and shaping her language, then comes to another understanding from the boy in her third grade class. Language can be how words are used, what their meaning is and the purpose behind that selection of words. Reality is everyday life and experiences. When in third grade Naylor encounters nigger as a racial derogatory when a boy said “nigger” to her while receiving graded tests back. To Gloria it was anything but a racial put down since …show more content…
In “Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?”, author Gloria Naylor explains throughout her piece that reality shapes language and language can shape reality. Naylor explains this, “chicken or the egg dispute” (Naylor 1) through her experiences with the word nigger. Gloria explains how she starts on one side of reality and shaping her language, then comes to another understanding from the boy in her third grade class. Language can be how words are used, what their meaning is and the purpose behind that selection of words. Reality is everyday life and experiences. When in third grade Naylor encounters nigger as a racial derogatory when a boy said “nigger” to her while receiving graded tests back. To Gloria it was anything but a racial put down since her grandmother insisted the family use it in the sense of a communicating word describing a person, and to not hate the African American race. She had to ask her mother what the boy had called her that day. She grew up with the understanding nigger could be a reputation, quantity, gender, perspective or pronunciation from how her close-knit family would talk. All that Naylor knows becomes questionable due to a quite different reality shaping her thought of that word in her language. Her family-oriented word to describe a person or another family member is altered as well. Gloria does not give recognition to nigger in its hateful fashion, even though that fateful day in third grade an ignorant boy adds a disappointing definition of the word
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