A marvelous black bildungsroman story of a young person who grows into maturity , this novel features its heroine, Maud Martha Brown, as a plain, black girl acutely aware of how others feel about her. Her need for safety and security also are threatened when she fears her parents will split up, and she has a nightmare about a caged beast. Meanwhile, others do not overlook Maud. Brooks's narrator shows how, ironically Maud begins to see her surroundings with the viewpoint of her visitor: Most of all we read about struggles of an individual for group identity and dignity and for self-fulfillment. Maud, in a word, grabs her dignity and self-respect in little increments.
Her marriage, sinking into humdrum everydayness, is not what she thought it would be. The city, those who survive in it, those who go down, and those who conquer or transcend it, is the theme of many Illinois African-American fictionists. He is determined to use Maud as proof of his liberal views, while Maud, cleverly aware of this, plays the game, but only up to a point. Mootry, Historical Research and Narrative Chicago has been a source in American literature of many profound and eloquent explorations of young people in transition, of coming of age in particular eras and with the dangers of the street. World of Nothing, told in first-person narrative, shows the narrator and his friend, Top, living from one moment to the next in the Chicago ghetto. A comparison and contrast of Maud Martha with Hog Butcher can usefully structure reflection about them. Reality soon sets in, but at least Maud has a home of her own where she can make her wonderful cocoa when her critical mom comes to visit. Brooks and Fair add their unique voices with vivid characters who pursue their dreams in the homes and streets of black Chicago. While Brooks's story of Maud Martha reflects the "quiet" period immediately following World War II and preceding the civil rights movement and deals with personal development according to an internal, personal agenda, Fair's novels deal with the turbulent s when coming of age was conditioned greatly by events beyond an individual's control. Compared with the problems we will find in Ron Fair's novel, you may ask if Maud ever really defines herself. A series of comic visits from well-meaning beaus illustrate various aspects of Chicago life. The novel is a mini-picaresque, showing Maud in different settings that reveal the variety of Chicago locations: In it, black life is not always driven by race problems, and Maud's joy in simply being alive transcends definitions others might try to impose on her. Other Fair novels of potential interest in this comparison and contrast could include Many Thousand Gone, an American Fable set in Mississippi, the place many African-American Chicagoans called "down-home," having migrated from there to Chicago in the s and s. Of Fair's several novels, his second, Hog Butcher I , is concentrated on here because it best elucidates the problems of growing up black and male in s' Chicago in comparison to Maud Martha's growing up black and female in s' Chicago. Giving birth and hearing her baby cry gives Maud a sense of power, agency, and voice. As psychological realism, Maud Martha neatly illustrates one psychologist's famous "hierarchy of needs. While Brooks's novel is for a more mature audience, high school age and older, Fair writes for the younger audience. Her brilliant novel, Maud Martha originally published in ; reprinted in , however, is a small jewel, filled with finely polished episodes telling the story of a young black girl growing up in the late s through the s in Chicago. The neighborhood, incensed, erupts into a small riot, beating the policemen. This is neither the romantic racialism of the Harlem Renaissance nor the "Black is Beautiful" mode of the s Black Arts Movement, but rather a novel of psychological realism that veers toward gentle satire and understated humor that demythologizes, or exposes, many comforting myths about race, class, and gender. Maud Martha also dramatizes black sociologist W. Most of all we read about struggles of an individual for group identity and dignity and for self-fulfillment. Click Here for Curriculum Materials In all of these cases, we are presented with vacillations between opposites: Since the two boys are key witnesses, Wilford and his family are pressured to make Wilford change his testimony. Fair's dramatic plot offers another window to the problems of growing up black in Chicago:
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