Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Character Analysis

Brown Girl Dreaming is told through the eyes of Jacqueline, a young African-American girl who loves to make up and tell stories. The book (written by author Jacqueline Woodson about her own younger self) follows Jacqueline from her birth through around age ten. Over the course of the memoir, Jacqueline moves with her family from Ohio to South Carolina and then to New York City, and Jacqueline must learn to reconcile various parts of her identity as they connect to these separate places. Jacqueline’s family experiences various hardships and loss throughout this time, but as Jacqueline learns to harness her imagination throughout writing, it gives her resilience and hope.

Jacqueline Quotes in Brown Girl Dreaming

The Brown Girl Dreaming quotes below are all either spoken by Jacqueline or refer to Jacqueline. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Nancy Paulsen Books edition of Brown Girl Dreaming published in 2014.
Part 1 Quotes

I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital
Columbus, Ohio,
USA–
a country caught

between Black and White.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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My birth certificate says: Female Negro
Mother: Mary Anne Irby, 22, Negro
Father: Jack Austin Woodson, 25, Negro

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Mama, Jack
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

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My time of birth wasn’t listed
on the certificate, then got lost again
amid other people’s bad memory.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Mama, Jack, Grandma Grace
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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We’re as good as anybody.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Jacqueline, Odella, Grandpa Hope
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2 Quotes

Don’t ever ma’am anyone!
The word too painful
a memory for my mother
of not-so-long-ago
southern subservient days…

The list of what not to say
goes on and on…

You are from the North, our mother says.
You know the right way to speak.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Mama (speaker), Grandpa Hope
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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At the fabric store, we are not Colored
or Negro. We are not thieves or shameful
or something to be hidden away.
At the fabric store, we’re just people.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), MaryAnn
Page Number: 90-91
Explanation and Analysis:

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In downtown Greenville,
they painted over the WHITE ONLY signs,
except on the bathroom doors,
they didn’t use a lot of paint
so you can still see the words, right there
like a ghost standing in front
still keeping you out

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

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Retelling each story.
Making up what I didn’t understand
or missed when voices dropped too low, I talk
until my sister and brother’s soft breaths tell me
they’ve fallen
asleep.

Then I let the stories live
inside my head, again and again
until the real world fades back
into cricket lullabies
and my own dreams.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Odella, Grandpa Hope
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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And I imagine her standing
in the middle of the road, her arms out
fingers pointing North and South:

I want to ask:
Will there always be a road?
Will there always be a bus?
Will we always have to choose
between home

and home?

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Mama
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

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But I want the world where my daddy is
and I don’t know why
anybody’s God would make me
have to choose.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Gunnar
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 3 Quotes

Sometimes, I lie about my father.
He died, I say, in a car wreck or…
He’s coming soon…
if my sister’s nearby she shakes her head. Says,
She’s making up stories again. Says,
We don’t have a father anymore.
Says,
Our grandfather’s our father now.
Says,
Sometimes, that’s the way things happen.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Odella
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

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It’s hard to understand
the way my brain works— so different
from everybody around me.
How each new story
I’m told becomes a thing
that happens,
in some other way to me…!

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.
You’re lying, my mother says.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Mama, Uncle Robert
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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Our feet are beginning to belong in two different worlds— Greenville
and New York. We don’t know how to come
home and leave
home
behind us.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Odella, Grandpa Hope, Mrs. Hughes
Page Number: 194-195
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 4 Quotes

Is that what you want us to call you?

I want to say, No, my name is Jacqueline
but I am scared of that cursive q, know
I may never be able to connect it to c and u
so I nod even though
I am lying.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Ms. Moskowitz (speaker)
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

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Words come slow to me
on the page until
I memorize them, reading the same books over
and over, copying
lyrics to songs from records and TV commercials,
the words settling into my brain, into my memory.
Not everyone learns
to read this way— memory taking over when the rest
of the brain stops working,
but I do.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker)
Related Symbols: Composition Notebook
Page Number: 221-222
Explanation and Analysis:

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If someone had taken
that book out of my hand
said, You’re too old for this
maybe
I’d never have believed that someone who looked like me
could be in the pages of the book
that someone who looked like me
had a story.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker)
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:

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It’s hard not to see the moment—
my grandmother in her Sunday clothes, a hat
with a flower pinned to it
neatly on her head, her patent-leather purse,
perfectly clasped
between her gloved hands—waiting quietly
long past her turn.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), MaryAnn
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

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I love my friend,
and still do
when we play games
we laugh. I hope she never goes away from me
because I love my friend.
­–Jackie Woodson

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Maria
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

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We take our food out to her stoop just as the grown-ups
start dancing merengue, the women lifting their long dresses
to show off their fast-moving feet,
the men clapping and yelling,
Baila! Baila! until the living room floor disappears.
When I ask Maria where Diana is she says,
They’re coming later. This part is just for my family.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Maria (speaker), Diana
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incidLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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What’s wrong with you?
Have you lost your mind?
Don’t you know people get arrested
for this?

They’re just words,
I whisper.
They’re not trying to hurt anybody!

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Uncle Robert (speaker), Maria
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 5 Quotes

I still don’t know what it is
That would make people want to get along.

Maybe no one does.

Angela Davis smiles, gap-toothed and beautiful,
raises her fist in the air
says, Power to the people, looks out from the television

directly into my eyes.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker)
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:

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Some evenings, I kneel toward Mecca with my uncle.
Maybe Mecca
is the place Leftie goes to in his mind, when
the memory of losing his arm becomes too much. Maybe Mecca is
good memories,
presents and stories and poetry and arroz con pollo
and family and friends…

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Uncle Robert, Leftie
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:

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And all the worlds you are—
Ohio and Greenville
Woodson and Irby
Gunnar’s child and Jack’s daughter
Jehovah’s Witness and nonbeliever
listener and writer
Jackie and Jacqueline
gather into one world
called You
where You decide
what each world
and each story
and each ending
will finally be.

Related Characters: Jacqueline (speaker), Gunnar, Jack
Page Number: 319-320
Explanation and Analysis:

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Get the entire Brown Girl Dreaming LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Jacqueline Character Timeline in Brown Girl Dreaming

The timeline below shows where the character Jacqueline appears in Brown Girl Dreaming. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: i am born
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
february 12, 1963. In this opening poem, Jacqueline Woodson states the fact of her birth and where it took place (Columbus, Ohio). She... (full context)
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second daughter’s second day on earth. Jacqueline describes her birth certificate, which notes that she and her parents are “negro.” She further... (full context)
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a girl named jack. Jacqueline relates how her father wanted to name her “Jack,” his own name, rather than Jacqueline.... (full context)
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the woodsons of ohio. Jacqueline discusses the history of her family on Jack’s side, who believe they are the descendants... (full context)
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the ghosts of nelsonville house. In this poem, Jacqueline describes the ancestral home of Jack’s family, a big, white house in Nelsonville, where her... (full context)
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it’ll be scary sometimes. Jacqueline describes her great-great-grandfather, born a free man in Ohio in 1832. Jacqueline mentions how he... (full context)
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football dreams. Jacqueline discusses Jack’s youth playing football and his football scholarship to Ohio State. She describes how... (full context)
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other people’s memory. Jacqueline describes how various family members tell the story of her birth. These accounts differ greatly... (full context)
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no returns. When Mama brings Jacqueline home from the hospital, her brother wants to “return” her since she is a girl. (full context)
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how to listen #1. Jacqueline states that in her brain, sensations become memory. (full context)
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uncle odell. In this poem, which takes place before Jacqueline’s birth, Mama receives the news that her brother, Odell, has died after being hit by... (full context)
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good news. Odella, Jacqueline’s older sister, is born several months after Uncle Odell’s death. Jacqueline imagines her maternal grandmother,... (full context)
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my mother and grace. Jacqueline describes Mama’s relationship with her mother-in-law, Jacqueline’s paternal grandmother, Grace. Both hail from the same... (full context)
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each winter. Jacqueline describes Mama’s winterly migration to her home in South Carolina to visit her family. During... (full context)
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greenville, south carolina, 1963. Jacqueline describes Mama moving to the back of a bus with Hope, Odella, and Jacqueline in... (full context)
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home. Mama, Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope arrive at the home of Mama’s parents, MaryAnn and Gunnar, in South... (full context)
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after greenville #1. Jacqueline describes the family getting ready for the trip back to Ohio. They pack food and... (full context)
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rivers. Jacqueline describes the Hocking River, which deviates from the path of the Ohio river before joining... (full context)
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leaving columbus. Jacqueline describes the final fight between her parents, which ended their relationship. Jacqueline notes that there... (full context)
Part 2: the stories of south carolina run like rivers
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our names. After their move to South Carolina, Jacqueline notes that people start to refer to her, Odella, and Hope in relation to their... (full context)
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ohio behind us. Jacqueline and her siblings ask Mama how long they will stay in South Carolina, and their... (full context)
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the garden. Jacqueline describes Gunnar’s garden, talking about the promise the dirt holds for yielding vegetables and fruits.... (full context)
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gunnar’s children. Jacqueline describes watching Gunnar come down the road from work while singing, a daily practice. She... (full context)
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Jacqueline notes that she, Odella, and Hope call Gunnar “Daddy,” because it is also what Mama... (full context)
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at the end of the day. Jacqueline describes Gunnar’s work at a printing press, where he is a foreman. The ink of... (full context)
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Jacqueline notes that each man who works at the press clocks out the same way, but... (full context)
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daywork. Jacqueline describes the “daywork” (housework for white families across town) that African-American women do to make... (full context)
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...and her body aches from the hard housework she has done all day. She tells Jacqueline and Odella to never do daywork, since she is only doing daywork so that they... (full context)
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lullaby. Jacqueline describes the sounds in the South Carolina night—dogs, owls, frogs. The crickets, she says, are... (full context)
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bible times. MaryAnn tells Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope about the Bible stories she reads each night before she goes to... (full context)
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the reader. Jacqueline continues to describe daily life in South Carolina, noting how, from time to time, Odella... (full context)
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the beginning. Odella teaches Jacqueline, age three, to write the letter “j.” Jacqueline revels in the ability to write it,... (full context)
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...South Carolina, due to his allergies in the warmer climate and his homesickness. This reminds Jacqueline of Jack saying, “you can keep your south.” Since moving to South Carolina, Hope has... (full context)
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the almost friends. Jacqueline considers the other neighborhood children: a boy with a heart defect who listens to their... (full context)
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the right way to speak. Jacqueline recounts an instance when Mama beat Hope with a willow switch for saying “ain’t.” This... (full context)
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When Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope go into Greenville, they see the sit-ins for themselves. Gunnar explains that... (full context)
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...Mama’s best friend and cousin, visits with her children, who say they won’t play with Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope because of the fast, Northern way they speak. (full context)
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Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope spend time with Dorothy and Mama. Dorothy talks about activist training with... (full context)
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the blanket. Mama goes to visit New York, leaving Jacqueline and her siblings with MaryAnn and Gunnar. Jacqueline reflects on the close relationship she has... (full context)
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miss bell and the marchers. Jacqueline describes the goings-on at the home of Miss Bell, a woman who hosts secret Civil... (full context)
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how to listen #2. Jacqueline states that she and her family are followed around in stores because they are black. (full context)
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hair night. On Saturday night, MaryAnn does Jacqueline and Odella’s hair. While MaryAnn works to straighten Jacqueline’s hair with a hot comb, Odella... (full context)
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...didn’t just start recently; they have been going on since her own children were young. Jacqueline asks what would make people live together in peace, and her grandmother replies, “People have... (full context)
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the fabric store. Jacqueline says that, on some Fridays, she and her siblings go with MaryAnn to the fabric... (full context)
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ghosts. Jacqueline describes the “whites only” signs in downtown Greenville, which have been painted over. The paint... (full context)
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the leavers. Jacqueline describes watching men, women, and families, dressed in their best, taking the bus to leave... (full context)
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...air. Mama, drinking coffee on the porch, says that the New York air smells different. Jacqueline joins her on the porch. She predicts that she will remember the different scent of... (full context)
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...night, the neighborhood women quilt on the porch together and talk. Meanwhile, Hope, Odella, and Jacqueline sit on the stairs and eavesdrop, quiet for fear that MaryAnn will put them to... (full context)
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tobacco. Jacqueline thinks over Gunnar’s smoking and his perpetual cough. He is so short of breath that... (full context)
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how to listen #3. Jacqueline awakes, startled, to Gunnar’s coughing. (full context)
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my mother leaving greenville. Jacqueline describes the woodstove burning in the house, warding off the autumn chill, before acknowledging that... (full context)
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the last fireflies. Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope, knowing that they will soon be moving away from Greenville, catch their... (full context)
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changes. As MaryAnn styles Jacqueline’s hair, Jacqueline has a sense that the feeling of the brush is already becoming a... (full context)
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...students cannot attend the all-white school, and so instead have to join the lower school. Jacqueline thinks of the photos of Mama and her friends in her yearbook, including a young... (full context)
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...practice their religion more fervently (they are Jehovah’s Witnesses), and to read the Bible more. Jacqueline and her siblings, however, don’t really seem to grasp the meaning of their religion. (full context)
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...tells us. Cora and her sisters play with the Woodson children in the evenings. When Jacqueline steps on a mushroom, Cora tells Jacqueline that she “killed the Devil,” and says the... (full context)
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hall street. Jacqueline, Hope, and Odella spend their Bible study time on the front porch, drinking hot chocolate... (full context)
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how i learn the days of the week. Jacqueline lists her weekly schedule. On Mondays and Tuesdays she does Bible study. Wednesday is laundry... (full context)
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ribbons. Jacqueline and Odella wear ribbons in their hair every day except Saturdays, when they wash the... (full context)
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two gods, two worlds. One Sunday morning, Jacqueline awakens and listens to her grandfather coughing. Despite his bad lungs, he has not stopped... (full context)
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new playmates. Mama sends Jacqueline and Odella dolls from New York and writes about the city’s architecture, the ocean, the... (full context)
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...means when she attributes their possessions, like the swings in the backyard, to God. Still, Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope continue their Bible study, hoping for the “eternity” promised by the Church.... (full context)
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sometimes, no words are needed. Jacqueline sits on the porch swing on a winter night with Gunnar, quietly enjoying the company,... (full context)
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...so sick with his cough one day that he misses work and stays in bed. Jacqueline cares for him, wiping his head with a cool rag and telling him stories to... (full context)
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new york baby. As Jacqueline sits on her lap, MaryAnn tells her that she will no longer be the baby... (full context)
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...the open window. She tells them they have a home in New York now, and Jacqueline is too tired to tell Mama that Greenville is her home. Mama promises they will... (full context)
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roman. The next morning, Jacqueline meets her baby brother, Roman. Hope is happy to have another boy in the family.... (full context)
Part 3: followed the sky’s mirrored constellation to freedom
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new york city. The family arrives in New York City, and Jacqueline finds that it is nothing like how the Southerners described it. Unlike their romanticized view... (full context)
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herzl street. Jacqueline, Mama, and her siblings move into an apartment at Herzl Street. Aunt Kay and Bernie... (full context)
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the johnny pump. Jacqueline misses the red dirt of Greenville and walking in bare feet. In New York she... (full context)
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genetics. Jacqueline notes that she, Mama, Gunnar, and all her siblings have the same gap in their... (full context)
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caroline but we called her aunt kay, some memories. Jacqueline lists memories of Aunt Kay, thinking of her with her arms open for a hug,... (full context)
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...of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus outside, though Mama is skeptical and jokes about it. Still, Jacqueline catches her mother smiling at the sculpture, and imagines she is thinking of Aunt Kay. (full context)
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composition notebook. Jacqueline receives a composition notebook. She is enraptured by the look of the cover and the... (full context)
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on paper. Jacqueline writes her full name for the first time in the composition notebook, and it makes... (full context)
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first grade. As Jacqueline and Odella walk to school, Odella tells Jacqueline that the school, P.S. 106, used to... (full context)
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...Mama finds a Kingdom Hall where the children can attend services on Sundays. This reminds Jacqueline of their lives in Greenville, especially when their mother braids their hair like their grandmother... (full context)
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flag. Jacqueline cannot pledge allegiance to the American flag at school because it is against her religion... (full context)
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...Due to their faith, the Woodson family celebrates no holidays. This includes birthdays, and so Jacqueline must leave the classroom when another student brings in cupcakes for their birthday. Being a... (full context)
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brooklyn rain. Jacqueline contrasts the rain in Brooklyn with the rain in Greenville. In Greenville, the rain is... (full context)
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another way. In November, Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope beg to watch television or play outside, but Mama won’t let them.... (full context)
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gifted. Jacqueline describes Odella’s intelligence and how her teachers believe she is “gifted” and send her home... (full context)
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...one other house on Madison Street is occupied by a family without a father. When Jacqueline asks the boy who lives there why he is fatherless, the boy tells her his... (full context)
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uncle robert. Jacqueline’s Uncle Robert moves to New York City. He arrives around midnight. The children are excited... (full context)
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...them that if they blow on a dandelion puff, then their wishes will come true. Jacqueline does so, hoping what he says is true. (full context)
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believing. Jacqueline tells Robert made-up stories. Her uncle finds the stories amusing, and encourages them. Mama, however,... (full context)
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...to Kingdom Hall, and they usually walk in during the singing at the service’s opening. Jacqueline’s voice is off-key, but she sings anyway. She finds the religious lyrics boring, but enjoys... (full context)
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...snake. Women aren’t allowed to give Sunday sermons at Kingdom Hall, a fact that confuses Jacqueline. That Sunday, the preacher tells the story of the fall of Adam and Eve. According... (full context)
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...They are not upset, since they did not even know he was still alive. Briefly, Jacqueline thinks of her father. Hope says he is “out of sight out of mind,” but... (full context)
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halfway home #2. Jacqueline feels more at home in New York, and her speech is becoming more Northern. When... (full context)
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...Mama tells him to stop. Hope then takes apart his train set piece by piece. Jacqueline thinks it is Hope’s way of looking for something “way past Brooklyn.” (full context)
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...leave him there overnight. After previously wishing to be the baby of the family again, Jacqueline now only wishes for her baby brother to come home. (full context)
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going home again. Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope kiss Roman goodbye in the hospital before taking the train to Greenville... (full context)
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...slam. Later they will drink lemonade and play checkers on the porch with Gunnar. To Jacqueline, Greenville feels like home. (full context)
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...children spend the days at Mrs. Hughes’ Nursery School. When MaryAnn drops them off there, Jacqueline is “maybe” crying. The children at the daycare make fun of them for their Northern... (full context)
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how to listen #4. Odella tells Jacqueline that they are better than the mean children who make fun of them. (full context)
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field service. Thanks to MaryAnn’s influence, Jacqueline, Hope, and Odella spend their Saturdays evangelizing. For the first time, Jacqueline is allowed to... (full context)
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...waves to MaryAnn, who sits with her grandchildren on the porch. Gunnar, meanwhile, gardens. When Jacqueline worries about his sickness, Gunnar tells her that she is too young to worry. (full context)
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Jacqueline knows that soon she will change out of her Kingdom Hall clothes and into gardening... (full context)
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...is ending. Mama calls MaryAnn to plan the children’s return. The children miss Roman, and Jacqueline thinks of him running to them when they return from school. The children play on... (full context)
Part 4: deep in my heart i do believe
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family. In the books that Odella reads to Jacqueline, there is always a happy ending. When Jacqueline and her siblings return to Brooklyn from... (full context)
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maria. During the last weeks of summer, Jacqueline makes a new best friend, Maria, who lives two doors down. Every morning they play... (full context)
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how to listen #5. Maria asks Jacqueline what her deepest wish is. (full context)
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...reads for fun instead of engaging in more active pursuits, like handball or jump rope. Jacqueline, on the other hand, likes playground games, and so she is called a “tomboy.” Her... (full context)
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...The children whine. Outside, their friends, who are allowed to stay out later, complain that Jacqueline and Hope shouldn’t have to go inside so early. (full context)
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lessons. As Mama cooks pancakes, she tells Jacqueline that MaryAnn tried to teach her how to cook, but she didn’t want to learn.... (full context)
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trading places. When Maria’s mother makes a particular dish that Jacqueline really likes, Jacqueline brings a plate of Mama’s food to exchange for Maria’s dinner. Then... (full context)
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writing #1. Jacqueline finds oral storytelling easier than writing. She struggles to remember the spellings of words and... (full context)
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late autumn. Jacqueline’s teacher Ms. Moskowitz tells her class to write their names on the board. Jacqueline writes... (full context)
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the other woodson. When Jacqueline’s teachers meet her in the fall, they accidently call her Odella repeatedly because they look... (full context)
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...to the radio, the song “Family Affair” comes on and she turns the volume up. Jacqueline transcribes the lyrics, which make her think of her pull between Brooklyn and Greenville. She... (full context)
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birch tree poem. Jacqueline’s teacher reads her class the poem “Birches” by Robert Frost. First she shows them a... (full context)
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how to listen #6. Jacqueline states that when she sits under the oak tree on her street, “the world disappears.” (full context)
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reading. Jacqueline continues to have difficulty reading. Her teachers tell her to read more difficult material and... (full context)
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...takes the children to the library and allows them to pick out seven books each. Jacqueline relishes the fact that she can read whatever she wants, and she reads a book... (full context)
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when i tell my family. Jacqueline tells her family she wants to be a writer, and they respond by telling her... (full context)
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...the phone, so Mama makes them take turns. Gunnar coughs and asks how they are. Jacqueline tells him she loves him, and he responds in kind. (full context)
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...school concert, impressing and surprising his family with the quality of his voice. In response, Jacqueline thinks that maybe in each person there hides “a small gift from the universe waiting... (full context)
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...swings on the swing set that Gunnar cemented down. Gunnar is by now gravely ill. Jacqueline brings Gunnar chicken soup, but after a few mouthfuls he is too tired to eat. (full context)
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The other children avoid Gunnar’s sick room. Jacqueline, however, attends to Gunnar, who whispers between coughs that she is his favorite grandchild. Jacqueline... (full context)
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...with the children to avoid “having white folks look at [them] like [they’re] dirt.” When Jacqueline argues that they aren’t dirt, MaryAnn nods, but says it is easier to stay in... (full context)
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...store employees would not help MaryAnn and they made her wait an inordinately long time. Jacqueline imagines her well-dressed, dignified grandmother waiting “quietly long past her turn.” (full context)
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...summer. The Greenville summer ends and Robert takes the children back to New York. When Jacqueline hugs Gunnar, she notices he is extremely thin. They wave at their grandparents as their... (full context)
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...he promised. Robert assures them he won’t forget, while Mama gives him an ambiguous look. Jacqueline thinks of a recent incident when policemen knocked on their door late at night, looking... (full context)
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fresh air. Jacqueline, back from Greenville, looks for Maria, but Maria’s mother tells her Maria is in upstate... (full context)
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p.s. 106 haiku. In a haiku form of poem, Jacqueline writes her name and her grade, and says that it’s raining outside. (full context)
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learning from langston. Jacqueline quotes Langston Hughes’s poem “Poem,” in which Hughes bemoans the loss of a friend. Jacqueline... (full context)
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the selfish giant. Jacqueline’s teacher reads the Oscar Wilde story The Selfish Giant to the class. The story is... (full context)
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During class one day, Jacqueline’s teacher asks her to read aloud. Instead, Jacqueline recites the whole story of The Selfish... (full context)
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the butterfly poems. Jacqueline says she is writing a book about butterflies, and she looks in the encyclopedia at... (full context)
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six minutes. In groups, the women of Kingdom Hall write and perform skits about evangelization. Jacqueline asks to write her group’s skits all by herself. Jacqueline inserts horses and cows into... (full context)
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first book. Jacqueline makes her first book. It is composed of haikus, and entitled “Butterflies.” (full context)
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john’s bargain store. Jacqueline and Maria shop on Knickerbocker Avenue, a major shopping street. Jacqueline refuses to go into... (full context)
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...A new girl named Diana moves in next door and becomes friends with Maria and Jacqueline. Like Maria’s mother, Diana’s mother is from Puerto Rico. Maria tries to dispel Jacqueline’s worries... (full context)
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pasteles & pernil. Jacqueline goes over to Maria’s house for her brother’s baptism. The two of them look at... (full context)
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Maria’s mother cooks pernil, but Jacqueline cannot eat it because Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot eat pork. Instead she eats “pasteles” filled with... (full context)
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curses. People tell Mama that Jacqueline and her siblings are very polite. They do not curse or behave in ways that... (full context)
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afros. Robert comes to the house sporting an afro, and afterward Jacqueline begs Mama to let her wear her hair like that. Mama says no, but Mama... (full context)
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graffiti. Jacqueline and Maria try graffiti, but are caught by Robert. Jacqueline does not know how to... (full context)
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...word “funk,” so they have to listen to white stations. Odella likes the music, but Jacqueline sneaks over to Maria’s house to listen to the other music and to sing and... (full context)
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...to a prison upstate, where the family hopes to visit him soon. When people ask, Jacqueline does not tell them that Robert is in jail. She is still very upset about... (full context)
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on the bus to dannemora. The family boards a bus to visit Robert in prison. Jacqueline falls in and out of sleep listening to the radio, and then thinks of a... (full context)
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too good. Still on the bus, Jacqueline starts to make up a song. Odella asks who taught it to her, and she... (full context)
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...the family goes through the gate and past the guards. The prison disturbs Hope, and Jacqueline can tell. Jacqueline watches a security officer pat Hope down, and thinks how quickly he... (full context)
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...the family sees Robert at last, he is not himself. His afro is shaved, and Jacqueline senses a sadness in him that did not exist before. (full context)
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mountain song. On the bus home from the prison, Jacqueline continues to develop the song she was writing about the mountains they pass on their... (full context)
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poem on paper. When Jacqueline’s family asks what she is writing, she gives them vague answers. Mama tells Jacqueline that... (full context)
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how to listen #7. Jacqueline states that a person can find stories in silence if they listen. (full context)
Part 5: ready to change the world
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...planted a mimosa tree seed in the spring, and in the winter the sapling emerges. Jacqueline meditates on how some days she feels that the New York that people glorified in... (full context)
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bubble-gum cigarettes. Jacqueline and Maria walk to a bodega nearby to buy bubble-gum cigarettes. The two girls pretend... (full context)
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what’s left behind. MaryAnn tells Jacqueline that she reminds her of Gunnar while holding a picture of him in her hands.... (full context)
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the stories i tell. In the fall, Jacqueline’s teacher asks her class to write about their summer vacations. Most of the class goes... (full context)
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how to listen #8. Jacqueline remarks that “someone” is always asking “do you remember…?” and that the other person always... (full context)
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fate & faith & reasons. As Jacqueline and Mama fold laundry together, Mama tells her that “everything happens for a reason,” and... (full context)
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what if…?. Jacqueline wonders what would have happened if Madison Street hadn’t been built, if Maria and she... (full context)
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bushwick history lesson. Jacqueline learns about the history of Bushwick in class. She thinks about how before the neighborhood... (full context)
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how to listen #9. Jacqueline writes secretly under the back porch. (full context)
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...in prison, he converted to Islam, and he tells the children about his new faith. Jacqueline kneels beside him when he prays, curious about Mecca and the promised land he has... (full context)
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power to the people. After watching activist Angela Davis on television, Jacqueline walks the neighborhood with Maria, their fists raised to symbolize black power. They fantasize about... (full context)
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Jacqueline thinks about how white people and people of color live on opposite ends of Bushwick,... (full context)
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maybe mecca. Jacqueline describes a boy they call Leftie who says he lost his arm in the Vietnam... (full context)
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...Robert encourages the children to learn about “the revolution” (i.e. the Black Power Movement) firsthand. Jacqueline ponders the revolution, thinking of Shirley Chisholm, a black woman who ran for president. She... (full context)
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how to listen #10. Jacqueline describes her writing process in a few words, and emphasizes the importance of listening. (full context)
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a writer. Jacqueline’s teacher Ms. Vivo reads one of Jacqueline’s poems and tells her that she is a... (full context)
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every wish, one dream. When Jacqueline blows dandelion puffs, finds heads-up pennies, or wishes on stars, she wishes for only one... (full context)
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...globe that zooms in on different countries to tell stories of children around the world. Jacqueline likes hearing the multitude of different stories, and feels inspired to write. (full context)
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what i believe. Jacqueline lists her beliefs, ranging from religious beliefs to the belief in the possibility of racial... (full context)
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each world. Jacqueline states that there are “many worlds” a person can choose to “walk into each day.”... (full context)