Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Keepers of the House

I stayed up way too late last night finishing a paperback that I must have picked up at a thrift shop or garage sale. The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau deals with racism, tradition and belonging to the land in Southern society. Grau was born in New Orleans and her novels are about Southern life.

The story follows the Howland family and introduces each of the family keepers over the years in sections. Long-time land owners, rich and influential in their community, William Howland marries, but his wife dies in childbirth. His love for her prevents him from re-marrying. He meets a young, black woman who he falls in love with and brings into his home. They have three children together and end up raising his granddaughter Abigail. Abigail eventually becomes the keeper after she marries a racist man who is heavy into politics. This marriage eventually ends, the home is attacked and Abigail eventually, using her money and family history, seeks revenge upon the people of the town.

Grau sharply identifies attitudes of Southern people towards Negroes. The children of William and Margaret (the Negro woman) stand no chance of success in the area because of their mixed blood and are sent North for school. It also expresses the attitudes of Negroes to the White citizens, and the problems created for the mixed-race children.

It's sad that there are so many people yet in the United States who have these same attitudes. It is much more acceptable now for mixed marriages, but still is difficult at times for the child who is neither considered white nor black. Hopefully, through this generation we will become one nation of all races.

1 comment:

Aunt Dinah said...

I couldn't agree more!