Summary and Analysis Project
By Bria Donnell
Readers of Julius Lester’s novel, Day Of Tears, may run into several themes. When viewing through a historical lens, one finds that the ease of racial tensions in America may have prompted Lester to write this well-crafted novel in 2005. In chapter 4, “The Kitchen” Lester gives a great portrayal on how slaves’ feelings are never counted for anything. Master Butler takes his children and Emma to a slave auction, telling no one that he is secretly planning to sell Emma.
The largest auction of slaves in American history is when he decided to sell Emma, on March 2nd and 3rd, 1859. In his demented mind, not telling at least Emma’s mother about his plan is perfectly fine. Returning from the auction,without Emma, he shows no remorse from what he has done as he calmly ambles by Emma’s mother, Maddie. Silence floods the room as Maddie’s heart fills with sorrow. People tend to forget this side of abuse when it comes to slavery. Slaves were not only hurt physically, but mentally and emotionally.
Silence, a 7 letter word so delicate saying its name destroys it so rapidly. People never ponder the thought of how dead inside slaves were from being emotionally drained. Slaves were never able to show their true emotions, in Maddie's case, grief. Sarah's bellows and cries for Emma echo throughout the house as Maddie begins to lash out at Master Butler for selling her only daughter, but all they get in return is,silence. Not only were slaves confined physically to slavery, but their souls were just as much slaves as their bodies were. Imagine having to cry to one's self in the dead of the night so you weren't seen as weak, the only thing around to comfort you was, silence. In today's world, the ignorance towards the truth in slavery grows greater through generations, in this novel, Lester teaches the truth behind slavery. Schools don't teach kids, teens or young adults how brutal life was for slaves. The recurring theme and statement learned in schools were how "whites owned slaves." Never going into detail of how each day was really struggle to survive, not only because of the physical exhaustion, but the challenge of wanting to live through another day with grief and depression coating their souls. Lester also reveals to the readers that not all white people were evil dictators when it came to this time period. Master Butlers, eldest daughter, Sarah was devastated at the lost of Emma. Sarah believed that it was wrong for anyone to have slaves. She looked up to Emma as a mother figure. Master Butler sold Sarah's only best friend, and she never forgave him for that. Growing up, never seeing Emma ever again, the love she had in her heart for her never grew old. Many years later she names her child "Emma" after the strongest woman she ever loved in life.
In conclusion, Lester educates his readers on the lives of everyday slaves in his masterpiece, Day Of Tears. Hoping his novel touches the lives of the non-knowing readers of slavery and shines a light on why having an ease on racial tension is wrong. Now seeing how slaves lived for years, why should ease on racial tensions be allowed ? Hopefully now readers can take a stand and break their silence.