Brown Girl Dreaming

Odella Character Analysis

Odella, or Dell, is Jacqueline’s older sister. She is named after her Uncle Odell, who died before her birth. Odella is a voracious reader and an excellent student. Instead of playing playground games with the other children, Odella prefers to read whenever she can. Jacqueline and Odella go to the same schools, where Jacqueline feels that she is constantly compared to her sister since Odella is so smart.

Odella Quotes in Brown Girl Dreaming

The Brown Girl Dreaming quotes below are all either spoken by Odella or refer to Odella. 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

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

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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Lorem 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.

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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Lorem 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.

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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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Lorem 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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Odella Character Timeline in Brown Girl Dreaming

The timeline below shows where the character Odella appears in Brown Girl Dreaming. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: i am born
Memory Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
good news. Odella, Jacqueline’s older sister, is born several months after Uncle Odell’s death. Jacqueline imagines her maternal... (full context)
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Mama still mourns Odell’s death as she nurses her new baby, Odella. Grace tells Mama the baby is a gift from God to replace her brother, but... (full context)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
...south carolina, 1963. Jacqueline describes Mama moving to the back of a bus with Hope, Odella, and Jacqueline in South Carolina, where segregation is still pervasive and black people must leave... (full context)
The North and The South Theme Icon
home. Mama, Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope arrive at the home of Mama’s parents, MaryAnn and Gunnar, in South Carolina.... (full context)
Part 2: the stories of south carolina run like rivers
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...After their move to South Carolina, Jacqueline notes that people start to refer to her, Odella, and Hope in relation to their grandparents (saying, for example, they are “MaryAnn’s babies”). She... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Jacqueline notes that she, Odella, and Hope call Gunnar “Daddy,” because it is also what Mama calls him. Jacqueline describes... (full context)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
...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 never have... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
bible times. MaryAnn tells Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope about the Bible stories she reads each night before she goes to bed.... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
...Jacqueline continues to describe daily life in South Carolina, noting how, from time to time, Odella disappears under the kitchen table to read. When Hope and Jacqueline try to distract her... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
the beginning. Odella teaches Jacqueline, age three, to write the letter “j.” Jacqueline revels in the ability to... (full context)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
When Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope go into Greenville, they see the sit-ins for themselves. Gunnar explains that peaceful... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
...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)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope spend time with Dorothy and Mama. Dorothy talks about activist training with their... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
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 reads long,... (full context)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...their kids names that no master could ever take away.” They discuss Hope’s name, which Odella says is strange for a boy. Hope argues it’s because he’s the hope of the... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...One fall 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... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
the last fireflies. Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope, knowing that they will soon be moving away from Greenville, catch their last... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
...the brush is already becoming a memory. Jacqueline sits on the porch with Hope and Odella and they talk about how, once they’ve moved to New York, they’ll still come back... (full context)
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
hall street. Jacqueline, Hope, and Odella spend their Bible study time on the front porch, drinking hot chocolate and doing their... (full context)
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
ribbons. Jacqueline and Odella wear ribbons in their hair every day except Saturdays, when they wash the ribbons. The... (full context)
The North and The South Theme Icon
new playmates. Mama sends Jacqueline and Odella dolls from New York and writes about the city’s architecture, the ocean, the toy stores,... (full context)
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
...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. The... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
the letter. On Sunday, a letter arrives from Mama. Odella reads it aloud after breakfast, and they all learn the news that Mama is coming... (full context)
The North and The South Theme Icon
...the family. Jacqueline, however, resents the new baby, and she pinches him, making him cry. Odella scolds her and picks Roman up, hugging him until he calms down. (full context)
Part 3: followed the sky’s mirrored constellation to freedom
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...by the look of the cover and the sound and smell of the paper inside. Odella is perplexed by this fervor, since Jacqueline can’t yet write. (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
first grade. As Jacqueline and Odella walk to school, Odella tells Jacqueline that the school, P.S. 106, used to be a... (full context)
The North and The South Theme Icon
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
...their mother braids their hair like their grandmother did. Unlike in Greenville, though, Jacqueline and Odella have to iron their own dresses because Mama’s hands are full with baby Roman. Mama... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
another way. In November, Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope beg to watch television or play outside, but Mama won’t let them. Instead,... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
gifted. Jacqueline describes Odella’s intelligence and how her teachers believe she is “gifted” and send her home with certificates... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...died. Jacqueline admits that sometimes she lies about Jack and says he is dead. When Odella hears these tall tales, she shakes her head, tells the truth, and says that Jacqueline... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...He arrives around midnight. The children are excited and Mama, initially grumpy, smiles. Robert gifts Odella a pair of silver earrings for “how smart she is.” Bitterly, Jacqueline tells Robert that... (full context)
The North and The South Theme Icon
going home again. Jacqueline, Odella, and Hope kiss Roman goodbye in the hospital before taking the train to Greenville for... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
...“maybe” crying. The children at the daycare make fun of them for their Northern accents. Odella cries too, and, furious, fights the other children who make fun of them. Hope, meanwhile,... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
how to listen #4. Odella tells Jacqueline that they are better than the mean children who make fun of them. (full context)
Religion and Spiritualism Theme Icon
field service. Thanks to MaryAnn’s influence, Jacqueline, Hope, and Odella spend their Saturdays evangelizing. For the first time, Jacqueline is allowed to knock on a... (full context)
Part 4: deep in my heart i do believe
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
family. In the books that Odella reads to Jacqueline, there is always a happy ending. When Jacqueline and her siblings return... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
tomboy. Odella reads for fun instead of engaging in more active pursuits, like handball or jump rope.... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
the other woodson. When Jacqueline’s teachers meet her in the fall, they accidently call her Odella repeatedly because they look so much alike. They expect her to be as smart as... (full context)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
...a child.” Jacqueline sticks her tongue out at her mother when she’s not looking, and Odella catches her. Odella repeats her mother’s phrase, rolls her eyes, and returns to reading. (full context)
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...children deem cool contain the 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... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
too good. Still on the bus, Jacqueline starts to make up a song. Odella asks who taught it to her, and she doesn’t believe Jacqueline when she says it... (full context)
Part 5: ready to change the world
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...to buy bubble-gum cigarettes. The two girls pretend to glamorously smoke their bubble-gum cigarettes until Odella comes out and says smoking is how Gunnar died. Then Maria and Jacqueline chew the... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Racism, Activism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
The North and The South Theme Icon
...to “walk into each day.” These worlds include ones where she is as smart as Odella, ones where she is more like her brothers, or ones where she is a mother.... (full context)