Analysis of Terry McMillan's A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Essay by MissJeneeUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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When Viola Price states, "One thing I do know about men and kids is that they always come back. They always a day late and a dollar short, but that ain't my fault, and it sure ain't gon' be my problem,"(262) she defines this novel using the title concisely.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short starts off and ends with the words of the matriarch of the Price family, Viola Price. Viola explains the complicated lives of her children, Paris, Charlotte, Janelle, and Lewis as well as her estranged husband Cecil. From the first sentences when she states "Can't nobody tell me nothing I don't already know. At least not when it comes to my kids,"(1) we understand that Viola really believes she "knows it all."

A Day Late and A Dollar Short goes within a maximum of 10 year span, often times recalling past events, of the lives of the Pierce family.

Viola, Cecil, Paris, Janelle or Lewis, each narrate a chapter by chronicling their intricate lives and how each one of them connect to one another. Each member of the family gives his or her own perception of events such as Lewis's alcoholism, Paris's addiction to Vic Odin, Janelle's failed marriage and Charlotte unwillingness to cope with issues within the family. This novel shows how the Pierce family comes to grip with, death, money and isolation. It is each member of the family's individual quest for survival that all comes together at the end.

Paris holds much of the responsibility in the Price family as the oldest child of the family. Named after Viola's dream of one day going to Paris, she is often known as the sibling who has the most money. Ironically, Paris is the one who is "secretly" addicted to painkillers. Although Paris gives...