Brown Girl, Brownstones

Brown Girl, Brownstones Analysis

Paule Marshall's book Brown Girl, Brownstones traces the events in a young immigrant girl's life which lead her to become embittered with America and return to her home country of Barbados. Selina is ten-years-old when her father receives an inheritance of land back in Barbados. Unable to agree about what to do with the land, her parents fight constantly. One day Selina overhears her mom, Silla, plot to sell the land without her father's permission. When Selina tells her father, he's outraged, but it's already too late to save the land. Deighton then wastes all of the profits to spite his wife. The entire Barbadoan community begins to shun both Deighton and Selina for their apparently reprehensible actions. Growing up an outcast, Selina drifts far away from the manifestations of her native culture in the local community, preferring to chase white boys at her new school. When a guy named Clive breaks her heart, Selina determines to move back to Barbados and to forget about all the heartache and wasted effort of America.

This book is fascinating because it's a rare perspective that explains why an immigrant would return to their native land. Selina discovers that her fellow ex-pats in such tight community have very judgmental tendencies. They seem to have forgotten the loving spirit of their native culture in favor of suspicion and outrage. When even her own parents act out in discord with one another, Selina blames the American influence on them for their disagreements. She rejects both the white girls she meets in school and her countrymen because none of them seem to really believe what they claim they do. Frustrated with judgmental hypocrites, Selina finally resolves to return to Barbados. This is only after she gives white culture a shot in the person of Clive, but he turns out to be a con. Selina comes to believe that America is responsible for all the wrongdoings around her, that things would be better in Barbados.

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