Brown Girl, Brownstones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Brown Girl, Brownstones Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


The titular brownstones are themselves a symbol that repeats throughout the novel. However, their symbolic meaning changes as the novel progresses. At the very beginning they are seen to be the symbols of the American Dream to which Silla aspires. However, by the end of the novel, they have become symbols of oppression after they become owned by Silla as Silla chooses to evict the other tenants of the brownstone.

Beryl's Menstruation

Beryl's menstruation is a symbol for the idea of puberty. The manner in which it is introduced is shocking and confusing to Selina and hence the reader. This is a reflection of Selina's initial difficulty in grasping the concept.

Miss Thomson's Leg Scar

Even though the theme of racism underpins the better part of the novel, Miss Thomson's leg scar is one of the few more explicit symbols of this racism. The very cause of the leg scar was a racist attack upon her and this parallels the manner and attitudes that are held by white society towards the non-white community.


Through Deighton and Selina's eyes, the motif of returning to Barbados is portrayed as a sort of El Dorado. Deighton's recurring dreams of returning to Barbados to strike it rich and build a house is reflective of his attitudes towards Barbados. Later on at the end of the novel, this motif is repeated yet again but in Selina's point of view. She also comes to regard returning to Barbados as returning to a sort of safe haven and decides to do so when she is down and out.

World War II

World War II, which happens during the time in Book 2, is a symbol for the conflict between Deighton and Silla. The name of Book 2 itself, "The War", is symbolic as it represents both the war that is actually going on in the world as well as the conflicts and arguments that Deighton and Silla are having.

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