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  • Quotations page 262-263
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1) “The past in Mama Day is intricately connected to the history  and  lore of Sapphira  Wade and  the Day family. At the same  time, the past  looms  over the present  to significantly  influence the daily life of the community” (Eckard, 131).


Eckert’s quotation relates to the passage selected above by referencing Sapphira Wade’s influence on both the Day family and the community of Willow Springs. Eckert uses the words “intricately connected” to not only reference the connection between the past and Sapphira Wade, but also to indicate the complexities of the relationship. This intricate relationship is paralleled in the passage above, as Sapphira Wade is referenced as “the Mother who began the Days.” Similar to Eckert’s quotation, this passage indicates that Sapphira Wade ultimately started the lineage and is still connected to the Day family through a shared genealogy. Furthermore, Eckert goes on to state, “At the same time, the past looms over the present,” which is also paralleled in the passage above. As Miranda remembers her past she recalls “the birth of Hope and Grace,” and “the mother who ended her life in the Sound.” These events, although in the past, are a constant, looming presence in Miranda’s mind. These past events cast a dim light on Cocoa’s future, as she falls sick from the magical poison instilled in her hair. The past plays a part in Miranda’s everyday life, as she reminisces over her dead relatives and frequents the “other place.” This quotation, as well as the passage above, relates to the novel as a whole as the past is just as important of an element as the present. In order to understand Cocoa’s dire situation while sick from Ruby’s poison, and George’s unfortunate culmination, the past must be not only be understood but linked to the present. Instead of looking at the past as a sole entity and the present as another, they must be understood in conjunction to one another.


Eckert, Paula Gallant. “The Prismatic Past in Oral History and Mama Day.” Melus Vol. 20 No. 3, History and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press,1995. 121-135. Print


2) “In woman, personal history blends together with the history of all women,”


 In this passage, like in the Cixous quote, the histories of the Day women seem to blend together as Miranda looks further back in time.  At first there is definition between the women, Miranda see Hope and Grace, two women who died tragically young.  Then the passage moves on to “the mother who ended her life in The Sound,” this is a specific action but the woman who ended her life is not specified.  Finally the passage settles on “The Mother who began the days”.  While the reader can assume that the passage is referring to Sapphira Wade, by giving her this ambiguous title, the Mother becomes a vague character that can be connected to any of the mothers within the Day family.  The ambiguous description of the fates of different women in this passage makes the boundaries between the women more unified.  Who is the woman she sees “leave by wind?”  Who is the one who “leaves by water?”  By not specifying the exact women who have met these fates it creates a unified history for all the Day women, any of them could have died or will die this way.  The line “the blood from the broken hearts of the men” appears to describe the fate of Sapphira’s husband.   However it is also refers to George’s death and the cure of Coca’s illness.  The lack of details and the repetitious nature of the stories surrounding the Day women creates a joint history for them all, it seems as though their lives have all blended together and this history is needed to move forward in the future.


Cixous, Helene, Cohen, Keith, Cohen, Paula. “The Laugh of the Medusa”. Signs. The University of Chicago Press 1.4 (1976): 875-893. JSTOR.web. 11, November, 2014

3)   “Nonetheless, Naylor depicts nostalgia, the longing for a lost connection with a past place and time, as central to and even crucial to the construction of modern, urban African Americans' identities...” (Lamothe, 155)


Lamothe’s quote relates to the passage because Mama Day is constantly in connection with her past. She is in connection to her personal past and she is connected to her ancestral past. Furthermore, Miranda also finds identity in the past. She connects to the past Day women in her everyday life of medicine. She knows these practices because they were handed down to her by lineage. “She grew up seeing them rusted hooks empty over the mantel, but when the time came she knew what they were for.” Knowledge was passed down to her like a gift. This knowledge is critical to the life that Miranda leads.  


Lamothe, Daphne. "Gloria Naylor's Mama Day: bridging roots and routes." African American Review 39.1-2 (2005): 155+. Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.


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