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Analysis of

Brown Girl Dreaming

Susan Lipskin


This booklet will explore Jaqueline Woodson's use of literary devices in her book Brown Girl Dreaming. Woodson uses such techniques as repetition, imagery powerful word choice, metaphor, point of view, etc. to reveal to the reader her life growing up as an African American girl. The reader learns how the people and events in Woodson's past shaped her future.

Repetition and Point of View in 

february 12, 1963

Woodson is effective in her use of repetition in this free verse selection. Her repeated use of the words "I am born" show the significant events that occurred during the time period of her birth. Each time the words "I am born" are repeated they are followed with details that provide insight into the prejudice and turmoil that existed in this country in the year she was born. For example in the selection it says, "I am born as the south explodes, too many people for too many years enslaved," I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital Columbus Ohio USA- acountry caught between Black and White. " The use of repetition focuses the reader on the events surrounding Woodson's birth. In addition Woodson's point of view on the state of our nation during this time period is evident. She says that the country was "caught between black and white." Her point of view is that the country was very divided and that black people in the south were reaching a breaking point. She used the words"as the South explodes..." to show that from her perspective the year of her birth was a year of unrest in this nation.


The Ghosts of Nelsonville House

Imagery and Symbolism


Jacqueline Woodson expertly uses imagery to reveal to the reader her pride in her ancestral home, the home where her father was a boy. She calls on the reader to look into the house. Her use of imagery shows a home filled with much happiness. She views the home of her father, grandparents. aunts and uncles as a place that was full of life and a place where memories were made. In the text it says, "Once there were so many children here running through this house up and down the stairs, hiding under beds and in trunks...." This image shows the liveliness and joy that existed in the house. The image shows a home, not just a house. The house symbolizes family and love. It also symbolizes that the people who lived and played in that house are a part of Jacqueline. In the text it says, "Look closely. There I am in the furrow of Jack's brow, in the slyness od Alicia's smile...." The house symbolizes Woodson's beginnings.



football dreams

Character Theory


In the poem/selection "football dreams" the essence of Jacqueline's father is revealed to the reader. Woodson uses a variety of litrary devices to reveal her father to the reader. Her powerful use of repetition shows her father's immense talent as a football player. In the text it says, "No one was faster than my father on the football field, No one could keep him from crossing the line. Then touching down again." The repetitive phrase "No One" shows the superiority of her father on the football field and how he surpassed all others. Her clever word choice i.e. "My father dreamed football dreams and woke to a scholarship" shows that her father's determination paid off.  He made his dreams a reality.  Woodson also uses metaphor to show the choices made by her father. Interstate 77  and Columbus become metaphors for freedom verses limitations due to racial prejudice. Her father could have gone south on the interstate where his life would have been very different. He remained in Columbus to realize his dreams. "From Columbus, my father said, you could go just about anywhere." This demonstrates that in the north the possibilities for every man black and white were equal and endless. Woodson's father was a detemined individual who's goal was to make his dreams a reality.


Jacqueline Woodson's masterful use of literary devices reveals much about how she became the prolific writer she is today. The people, the time period and the events in her life are revealed through the use of imagery, repetition, metaphor, and powerful word choice in her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.