Betsey Brown

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Betsey Brown
Author Ntozake Shange
Country United States of America
Language English
Genre

Young-adult fiction

African-American literature
Published 1985
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Media type Print
Pages 207
ISBN 0312077270
OCLC 11624091

Betsey Brown is an African-American literature young-adult fiction novel by Ntozake Shange, published in 1985.

Plot[edit]

Betsey Brown is the story of an adolescent African-American girl growing up in 1959 St. Louis, Missouri, who is part of the first generation of students to be integrated in the public school system. She navigates common adolescent issues such as family dynamics, first love, and identity questions.

Major themes[edit]

Thematic concerns of the novel include African-American family life, coming of age, feminism, and racial freedom. One critic described the narrative structure of the novel as paralleling "the personal story of Betsey’s attaining self-confidence with the social achievements of the Civil Rights Movement."[1] This structure allows Shange to address feminist issues in addition to racial issues.[1]

Development history[edit]

In order to write the novel, Shange drew on her own experiences growing up in St. Louis, but the resulting novel is not entirely autobiographical.[2] Nevertheless, Shange, like Betsey Brown, really did know such African-American celebrities as Chuck Berry and W. E. B. Du Bois.[3]

Publication history[edit]

Betsey Brown was published in 1985 by St. Martin's Press.[4]

Explanation of the novel's title[edit]

Set in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education. the novel is eponymous.[5]

Literary significance and reception[edit]

Though perhaps the least known of Shange's work, the novel has been called "a little gem."[2]

Adaptations[edit]

Shange has adapted the novel into a musical play, which has been performed in various cities.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Crisu, Corina Anghel (Spring 2006). ""Speak Up, Ike, an 'Spress Yo'se'f" Sentimental Romance Revisited in Ntozake Shange's Betsey Brown". Americana 2 (1). Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Alward, Emily (2010). "Betsey Brown" in Masterplots (4th ed.). Ipswich, MA: EBSCO. 
  3. ^ Rankovic, Catherine (Winter 1995–1996). "An Interview with Ntozake Shange". Gateway Heritage 16 (3). Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Richards, Sandra (2001). Valerie Smith, ed. "Ntozake Shange" in African American Writers (2nd ed.). New York: Scribner's. pp. 651–667. 
  5. ^ a b Phelan, Peggy (Oct 1991). "Betsey Brown". Theatre Review 43 (3): 383–385. 

External links[edit]