In her article “‘What Shall I Give My Children?’: The Role of the Mentor in Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place and Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow,” Wells focuses upon the woman's role as mentor in various works of modem African American women writers. In using Gwendolyn Brooks' poem as the cornerstone of her study, she establishes the sense of anguish and frustration faced by the mother who seeks to give to her children a sense of worth and self-esteem in a society which automatically disenfranchises them. She poses an important question −− one that goes beyond the role of mother: “How does the power of mentoring and affiliation help women to overcome the institutional oppression leveled against them because of race, gender and class?” The works of Naylor and Marshall offer their individual answers for triumph in the face of “an autumn freezing everywhere.”

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