"Gorilla, My Love": Toni Cade Bambara's Womanist Methodology of Emancipation Restricted; Files Only

French, Asha (Summer 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9p290b41f?locale=en


This dissertation examines Toni Cade Bambara’s representation of black girlhood in Gorilla, My Love through the lens of a Womanist methodology of emancipation. It begins by examining definitions of decolonization, the methodology of emancipation, and Womanism. It uses Black Feminist theory and Womanist theory to analyze Toni Cade Bambara’s Hazel, a recurring character in Gorilla, My Love. I consider Toni Cade Bambara’s Master’s Thesis on the American adolescent apprentice novel to draw connections between her critique and her own adolescent narratives. I consider the ways that Hazel’s relational identity and devotion to community offer an alternative to the binaries framed by early American authors of adolescent narratives. By centering an adolescent subject, Bambara illustrates communal belonging outside of a nationalist framework that posits adolescence as an innocent training ground for future, heterosexual progenitors of a new nation. Bambara’s adolescent characters are shaped by her commitments to cultural work, kinship, wholeness, and communal wellness.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Settling Into Spirit as Method. 1

Refining Questions, Naming Intention. 4

On Language as Kinship. 24

Chapter 1: Decolonizing the Adolescent Narrative. 31

Writing the Diva’s Daughter: The Black Woman and Gorilla, My Love as Decolonizing Texts 31

From Decolonization to the Methodology of Emancipation. 36

Water Break/ Recap. 39

Sis. Toni’s Master Thesis and the Methodology of Emancipation. 40

Gorilla, My Love and the Womanist Methodology of Emancipation. 46

Chapter 2: Gorilla, My Love and Little Sisters. 48

For Colored Girls Who Consider Separatist Politics When the Brother is Enuf. 48

On Sister Burdens and Crumpled Signs. 53

A Memory: 2007. 54

Re-Membering Sibling Rivalry: You want to play a game?. 55

Gorilla, My Love: Describing the Elephant. 57

Sister Toni on Lovable Gorillas. 60

Ms. Dorothy Explains Semiology 63

Piggy Backing on Ms. Dorothy. 64

Front Seat Hazel Learns the Trauma of Unstable Signs. 66

Hazel and the Womanist Theology of the Cross 72

An Imagined Scene in Which Dr. Stewart and Toni Cade Bambara have Coffee in Dr. Stewart’s Home. 72

Movie Hazel Moves from the Cross to the Candy Stand. 89

Chapter 3: Little Sister Mixtape. 92

Fiction as Ancestral Bonding. 92

Probate. 98

Love, Me. 109

Friendly’s. 121

Daydreaming. 136

Who I Be When You Look At Me: Nonfiction. 141

Who I Be When You Look At Me Part 1. 142

Who I Be When You Look at Me: SOLHOT Part 2. 144

Who I Be When You Look At Me Part 3. 148

Conclusion. 154

Incantation- 2/12/19. 154

Gratitude. 159

Works Cited. 160

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