Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

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

Paidea Moment


So as I read I cannot help but look at Dana’s actions from a developmental psychology perspective. There are a few types of attachment styles. The most common three are secure attachment, avoidant attachment, and anxious/ambivalent attachment. I’ve concluded that she falls under the category of anxious/ambivalent. I’ll tell you why I think this.

Even though Dana’s mother has most often been attentive to Dana’s needs and cries, she works full time and therefore, cannot always be depended on. Dana is given a heavy burden, which entailed a great deal of independence, beginning early in her developing years. Her father is probably the main reason for insecure attachment, since he is literally not in her life for half of the time. Because her father has never given her consistent attention and affection, and is at many times insensitive towards her feelings and emotions, she is an insecure young adolescent. She is also suspicious and distrustful, yet at the same time, clingy for his attention. This is classic for kids with anxious or ambivalent attachment. This is illustrated when she claims that the only reason her father will not allow her to see Marcus, is because he does not want his secret being revealed. Nevertheless, when her father shows sincerity in saying that he loves her, she reciprocates, feeling something interesting (for lack of a better word) as she tells her daddy that she loves him too. “The word tasted a little sharp, like milk about to turn, but still, I wanted to say it again and again.” Man this quote tears me up. I aspire to be a parenting counselor in the future, and this kind of thing just hits home for me. It worries me that she is already showing signs of poor psychological development. These traumas can be hard to reverse without therapy and support from family or peers. I can only imagine the dark roads her past will take her down, as a wife, and a mother even.


2 thoughts on “Paidea Moment

  1. I cannot help but agree with you on this; having taken multiple psych courses myself, I have picked up on the attachment themes in the novel as well. I ache for Dana, and also for Chaurisse.

    I think Chaurisse has had some peculiar development as well, especially with her interactions with her mother. It’s intriguing to note how her mother both treats her as an adult and as a child – something mentioned multiple times in the novel’s second half. Not only does this create difficulty in Chaurisse’s identity development, but it seems to also hinder her ability to connect in meaningful ways with her peers.
    Chaurisse comments,

    “Even before puberty changed the stakes, I never had much truck with girls. Spending so much time with grown women had ruined my timing and dated my speech…. I was no one’s best friend, and the best friend is the only one that matters” (184).

    Oh these poor girls, traumatized more than they even know…. just like the rest of us.

    • I know!! It’s so heart wrenching knowing what should have happened in their lives to lead healthy ones themselves, when we’re just being an audience and able to do nothing! Yes I completely agree. Another striking example of this child/adult relationship is when Chaurisse consoles her mother. Sometimes with snuggling, embraces, and comforting words, and other times with tough love. Reminds me of me and my mom and her many failed relationships. I got her out of some tough ones let me tell ya. I think the only reason I didn’t turn out to follow in her footsteps was because I always had my grandpa and grandma as role models of a lasting and committed relationship. Those poor girls had nothing.

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