June 15, 2006

Final thoughts on Jubilee

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:31 pm by mrsmauck

I finished it yesterday, weeping for the last 10 pages or so. Okay, so the post-War years section was a bit draggy in the beginning. Part I, the Antebellum, was great: Vyry’s growing-up years in slavery, her attempted escape, the bush meetings led by one of my favorite characters, Brother Zeke, Vyry’s firey relationship with black freedman Randall Ware; all this was excellent reading, and positively inspirational for lesson plans. The anticlimactic emancipation marked a kind of holding pattern in the book: Vyry didn’t believe freedom would ever happen, and didn’t work toward or even hope for it, despite her husband’s best efforts to convince her freedom could happen.

Even though the plot was great for the first third of the book, Vyry’s character didn’t become real to me until she began to truly suffer: when she was beaten for trying to escape, and later, when she lost her first child with her new husband, Innis Brown. As soon as her indelible, Christlike spirit began to manifest itself, the book came to life, about two-thirds of the way through. When I closed the book for the last time, Vyry had become one of my favorite literary characters of all time! Certainly she is eons more respectable and admirable than her white, Civil War-epic counterpart, Scarlett O’Hara. (Why do people like her so much? Spoiled brat!)

Thanks, blog-buddies, for encouraging me to continue! I don’t know if I’ll teach it because of its length (500 some-odd pages, longer than Grapes of Wrath). What do you think, teachers? How long is too long at the high school level? If it took quite a bit of perseverance for me to get through it, could I expect high school students to finish it?

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