Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Cons of Bigamy for Dana Lynn Yarboro


For Dana, having James Witherspoon, a bigamist, as her father left her with a different understanding of the world and of herself. Since she was just a child she was engraved with the idea that she was a secret that must never come up. Having her own father say this to her, Dana grew up with the idea that she must always put herself second to the needs of Chaurisse. Dana’s feelings of almost unworthiness, or not being good enough is brought up with her future relationships, such as, her secret relationship with Marcus. Dana’s relationship with Marcus was also kept secret, and this wasn’t hard for Dana to hide from everyone because she was used to not being hidden. Dana is so used to it she doesn’t want to think further into the reasoning of why it is so easy to be pushed to the side. I think that due to the way that James treats Dana, she believes that she doesn’t have the right to ask for more in every aspect of her life. She doesn’t ask more from herself, she doesn’t ask for more respect, she doesn’t ask for more from her father, and the truly sad part is that she thinks that all these things aren’t given to “bastards.” She doesn’t concentrate on her value as a person, but focuses on her “faults” that in her mind make her unworthy. Dana lets words such as “bastard”, “illegitimate”, and “secret” define her. Once Dana realizes that those words do not define her, but are more than anything a reflection of her father’s mistakes, Dana will be able to truly accept and value herself.


3 thoughts on “Cons of Bigamy for Dana Lynn Yarboro

  1. So when i started reading Silver Sparrow I couldn’t put it down and finished it all in two days. I won’t put any spoilers here, but what I love about the way Tayari Jones wrote this book is how throughout the first half we’re made to feel sorry for Dana and to feel sad about the way she has been forced to live her life and the way her father’s bigamy has made her feel about hr self worth. But in the second half of the book, when Chaurisse is the narrator, it’s impossible not to feel sad for Chaurisse as well, and not just because she is unaware that her father has another family. Jones does such a good job of portraying how hard James’ bigamy weighs on each character.

  2. I think she may be a little more self-actualized than you let on in this post, but I do think you are spot-on about how her habitual secret-keeping has bled into her relationship with Marcus. She seems content to be his secret, and have him be her secret in return, and I’m not sure I find this healthy, even if there is empowerment in keeping him a secret from her own mother, something she has never done before and which her mother has told her is not to be done. Hmm…will have to read more.

    • Also I find it depressing that she takes slaps from Marcus and finds reasoning in her mind to make it okay. She tells herself that James slapped her mother, “so it happens.” Her innate instinct to lie about her secret life is also troublesome. It seems that she’s even addicted to lies as she pronounces them in lists, as if she we’re proud of them all. Interestingly though, you can see that she has obvious resentment for her mother’s lies/secrets. She says, “I suppose mother and I were almost even now.” Sigh, this is f-ed up to say the least. Some sick game going on inside her head that propels her to perpetuate the things she resents in her own mother. Yikes.

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