George’s Life Sacrifice in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day
George and Ophelia, two characters in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, have a complex yet intimate relationship. They meet in New York where they both live. Throughout their hardships, Ophelia and George stay together and eventually get married. Ophelia often picks fights with George to test his love for her, and time after time, he proves to her that he does love her. Gloria Naylor uses George as a Christ figure in his relationship with Ophelia to eventually save her life.
While visiting her relatives in Willow Springs, Ophelia becomes deathly ill as a result of evil forces on the island. George tries to think of ways to save her, but he cannot get to a real doctor. The real doctors are across the bridge, which has been destroyed by the hurricane. George helps with rebuilding the bridge practically 24 hours a day, but eventually he becomes disgusted with the others who are working on the bridge, believing that they work too slowly. In his frustration, he speaks in his mind retrospectively to Ophelia: “If there was a boat or even a raft, I would have taken it alone to get you help…and actually thought about swimming across. Quite a feat, since I couldn’t swim a stroke”(Naylor 263). Willing to risk his life, George hopes that Ophelia, who takes his love for granted, will return to good health, just as Christ is willing to give his life for those who do not deserve his love. In the same scene, George later says, “Swimming across didn’t seem quite as impossible anymore” (263). George has peace about swimming across because he thinks that this is the only way to save Ophelia. Christ felt peace in dying on the cross because he knew that by doing, this he would save the people whom he loved.
Mama Day tells George that he can save Ophelia by going to the hen house and bringing her back what he finds in the hen’s nest. George immediately tells her that she has lost her mind, but eventually he sees that this might be the only way to save Ophelia. Though deathly afraid of hens, he is willing to make that sacrifice for...