Gorilla, My Love

The short story is a first person narration about a girl, Hazel, who has it that adults treat children with dishonesty and disrespect. The narrator talks about two instances where adults demonstrated their lack of honesty and respect towards children. The narrator, Hazel is from a family of African American origin and lives in New York. The feelings of Hazel are somewhat universal and are reflective of the general feeling of moist young kids all over the world. In the story, the theme of representation is well evident and majors around the under-representation that the narrator’s family is accorded. This fact is reflective of the society back in 1970s when African American families were under-represented in all aspects of life.

One of the issues that Hazel decries is the lack of representation for the children. Even when they are represented, their views are not taken into account leading to the narrator referring to the adults as disrespectful. While travelling in a car with Hunca Bubba, Hazel is reminded of a time when they had gone to watch the film ‘Gorilla, My Love” only to be shown one about Jesus (Bambara, p. 15). Despite their continuous booing and picketing, their demands for a change of the movie fell on deaf ears as the dreaded matron threatened them with a cane. The children had to put up with the selection despite refuting the movie. Later, Hazel demanded a refund of the money because the film did not talk about gorillas. Nevertheless, the money is not refunded and Hazel ends up lighting a fire that leads to the closure of the theater for a week.

The story is also conscious of the place of poverty in society and how it leads to under-representation of the people. Gorilla, My Love portrays poverty as a widely spread phenomenon through the eyes of hazel, the narrator.  The young age of the narrator may well mean that she is not aware of its existence due to the fact that she rarely encounters other ways of livelihood. Even when Hazel is told of their poverty, it does not affect her but only influences how she perceives herself. The story is further critical of the phenomenon that is poverty and explores how people affected by the tragedy live their lives. The writer is conscious of the fact that those who are most affected by poverty do not even realize there is an alternative to poverty. In so doing, the people are not well represented ion society and their views suppressed. In addition, the lack of esteem among the poor largely due to their negative perceptions about self influences their participation in the governance of the society.

Representation is also portrayed in the family and in particular that of Hazel. When the narrator and any of her family members find difficulty in addressing issues in life, they find solace in their families. From Bambara’s writing, it is evident that everyone can find representation in the family regardless of the type of family that they delve in. The story portrays the role of the family as either having the power to save or destroy the members (Bausch & Cassill, p. 37). The family is the most vital organ that surpasses all economic and social problems affecting the characters. The family is thus portrayed as the single most important representation of the characters ion the story. Even the setting of the story is bound within the spheres of the family unit thus further portraying the important role that families play in shaping the destinies of the characters. Hazel for instance is best represented within the family bracket to accentuate her values better. In the absence on this representation, the character would have been ineffective (or less effective) in passing the message across.

Political empowerment is also an effective platform through which the theme of representation is portrayed in the short story. The period in which the short story was written is characterized by the growth of political activism and the spawning of numerous movements that fought for the rights of the minority. It was therefore easy to integrate these aspects in the short story to reflect the reality of the time. The use of politics for representation of the people is evident in the short story and seems to stem from the happenings in the 1970s. The story explores the cost of not representing the minority groups in the first place. In addition, it illustrates the role that black empowerment plays in improving their representation in both social and political aspects.

In addition, representation is portrayed through the theme of feminism in the short story, ‘Gorilla, My Love’. The difficulties that black women faced during the 1970s are one of the drivers that led to the integration of this theme. The use of the female persona in narrating the story is evidence to the use of feminism in improving the representation of women in the society especially at a time when men dominated every sphere of the society. Hazel illustrates that apathy and friendship are the most important tools that women should use in winning the war against under-representation. Essentially, the woman should not isolate the battle for representation to only the use of violence but should incorporate love to be more effective. The writer is effective in using feminism to communicate the t5heme of representation in the society and especially that of women.


Works cited

Bausch, Richard, and R V. Cassill. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. New York [u.a.: Norton, 2006. Print.

Bambara, Toni C. Gorilla, My Love. New York: Vintage Books, 2011. Internet resource.

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