Summary Of Paule Marshall's 'Praise Song For The Widow'

894 Words4 Pages
In the novel, “Praise Song for the Widow” by Paule Marshall, the audience is introduced to the main character 64 years old Avey Johnson, an African American widow, who sets out to learn about her heritage. The author makes use of flashbacks in order to show Johnson's ordeal. In her journey, Johnson travels to the Caribbean with two of her friends but along the way, she faces difficult owing to her sickness. Once they reach Granada Johnson struggles emotionally and physically. Her struggles are linked to social illness of racism and poverty, which she had faced in the past. It appears that Johnson is psychologically disturbed as she tries to escape from her lost past of heritage and identity. At this point Lebert Joseph becomesa fundamental part of Avey’s historical struggle to survive. Avey was raised by her great aunt Cuney, who would always tell her stories about their family heritage and ancestry. Aunt Cuney wants Avey to pass her cultural heritage to next generation and tells her the stories of Ibo slaves’ hardships traveling on ship. However, Avey's attention shifts as she forgets the identity and the struggles of African Americans. This breach between her and her roots widens when she focuses…show more content…
During all these times, Lebert Joseph stays connected with his cultural heritage and recognizes his significance with the Chamba Tribe. He become the symbol of Papa legba, who was believed to be the “god of all cross roads” and guides Avey to come out of her crisis as she struggles to find her identity. Avey is unconsciously trying to find meaning to her life and her lost ancestry, as she follows the same routes, her enslaved ancestors previously traveled from Ghana, Brazil, and the Caribbean. When Avey gets violently sick on the ship, she is haunted by the stories of the hardships that her ancestors faced as slaves. She decides to leave the cruise and stays on the island of
Open Document