Brown Girl, Brownstones Literary Elements

Brown Girl, Brownstones Literary Elements


Bildungsroman, Fiction

Setting and Context

Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s; primarily centred around a brownstone where the protagonist lives

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is presented from the first person point of view of the protagonist.

Tone and Mood

The tone throughout the novel is largely pensive and pessimistic. There is a hint of hope and often the reader is shown a light at the end of the tunnel. However, the mood remains largely melancholy.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Selina is the protagonist of the novel. There is, however, no true antagonist as Deighton's actions can be seen as merely self-preservatory and he is more of an anti-hero instead of an antagonist.

Major Conflict

The major conflict that spirals into the premise for most of the events that happen in the novel is triggered when Deighton inherits a plot of land in Barbados. This leads to the conflict between him and Silla.


The story climaxes shortly after the Silla's sale of the land behind Deighton's back. This leads Deighton to act in retaliation and results in his marginalization by the Barbadian community. This results in him losing an arm in a factory accident, joining a cult and ultimately dying on his voyage back to Barbados.


Deighton's constant dreams about returning to Barbados foreshadow Selina's eventual decision to head back to Barbados by the end of the novel.


Deighton ends up joining a cult under Father Peace before he is deported. The very naming of the cultist Father Peace understates the amount of trouble Deighton lands himself in by joining the cult.


Silla's entire pursuit and endeavor in life of owning the brownstone she lives in is an allusion to the American Dream.


Beryl's menstruation provides a gruesome and shocking (at least in Selina's eyes) image of the coming of age of a woman.


Silla's dream of owning the brownstone is rooted in her want for a sense of security. However, she deprives Suggie and Miss Mary of this very same sense of security once she becomes the owner of the brownstone.


The conflict that is occurring on a global scale (i.e. World War II) is paralleled against the conflict between Deighton and Silla.

Metonymy and Synecdoche




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