Cane River by Lalita Tademy

1243 Words3 Pages
Initially, Elisabeth is the matriarch of the four generations of women talked about in the story. Elisabeth works in the house, but she’s married to a field slave and has three daughters. Not much insight is given on Elisabeth and her feelings, yet through the narration it is as if she lived vicariously through her youngest daughter, Suzette: “It was as if her mother were the one who had just had her first communion not Suzette” (20) Even though Elisabeth too worked in the house, Suzette had more privileges than her mother and the other slaves. Elisabeth represented the strength and the pride of her people: “You have a mother and a father both, and they don’t live up to the [plantation] house” (25). She would constantly remind Suzette of her real family, which signifies the remembrance of a history of people and their roots. It is up to Suzette to keep the heritage even through the latter miscegenation of the generations to come. Next Tademy further illustrates the importance of family through the character Suzette. She is born a slave; however, Suzette lives in the plantation house as the nursemaid instead of the slave quarters. The fact that Suzette is a house slave is where her profound loss lies: “You come on out of your head and see how things really are” (25). Suzette's perception of reality is distorted by the fact that she spends so much time in the plantation house rather than in the slave quarters where her family lives. From the beginning Suzette is determined to speak French and obtain Holy Communion in church which even further places her above the other slaves. Even though she doesn’t see freedom until after the war, the aforementioned elevation is what leads Suzette to being the first to discover the promise and m... ... middle of paper ... ...lives. It gives readers the chance to emphasize with these women and their families. It let readers experience the trials and tribulations these women underwent firsthand. A nonfiction novel would not have had that impact and ability to draw readers that close. In all, Tademy does a great job in transporting her readers back to the 1800s in rural Louisiana. This book is a profound alternative to just another slave narrative. Instead of history it offers ‘herstory’. This story offers insight to the issues of slavery through a women’s perspective, something that not so many books offer. Not only does it give readers just one account or perspective of slavery but it gives readers a take on slavery through generation after generation. From the early days of slavery through the Civil War, a narrative of familial strength, pride, and culture are captured in these lines.
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