Summary and Analysis Project
By Francisco Vizcaino
Interlude XI Summary
This interlude is told in the voice of Jeremiah Henry, a store owner who takes Joe, Emma, Charles, Winnie, and their baby across the Ohio River.
After freeing them, Mrs. Henfield and Jack Pendle ask Henry if he knows about he runaway slaves, and he lies and says no. They then tell the other slave owners in the area not to buy products from Mr. Henry's store. Jeremiah soon starts to lose money. Fearing that Jack Pendle will accuse him of aiding runaway slaves( a reprehensible action) , Mr. Henry flees from Kentucky.
"A Different Perspective"
When looking at “Interlude XI” from the novel Day of Tears through a historical perspective, one can see that Julius Lester focused on pointing out the duality of both good and evil in both blacks and whites during slavery. This theme is proven through the characters Mr. Henry, Fanny Kemble, and Sarah Butler.
In other novels that talk about slavery, white people are almost always the ‘bad guys’. But in this novel, there are a bunch of white abolitionists that help slaves escape from their plantations. For example, Jeremiah Henry is a white store owner, and helps slaves cross the Ohio River, where they are free. I believe that Lester was trying to point out that during slavery, there were good and bad white people, as well as good and bad blacks. In “Interlude XI”, Jeremiah Henry helps Sarah, Joe, Charles and Winnie cross the river and become free. To some degree, this is not the usual way we’ve been taught.
When looking at the whole story, there are a handful of white characters that are averse to slavery, including Jeremiah Henry, Fanny Kemble and Sarah. Throughout the story, Sarah and her sister Frances always talk about how their mother, Fanny Kemble, really hated slavery. This shows that white people weren't all malevolent. Even Emma admits this when she said “all white folks back in that time wasn't evil . If it hadn't been for white people like Mr. Henry, me and Joe wouldn't have made it all the way up here…”
As we can see, when looking at not only this particular excerpt, but the whole novel, the readers can discern that one of the many themes in this book is that not all white people were evil, and not all blacks were ‘good’. This can be seen by some of the actions of the characters, their feelings and personalities.