Summary and Analysis Project
by Kirin Mackintosh
This picture represents the riverbank where Jeffrey sat and reflected on the past few years, after being freed from slavery
Interlude 5: "A Reason for Living"
Interlude 5 mostly revolved around a young slave named Jeffrey, who had previously belonged to Pierce Butler but was sold to master Ellington. During Jeffrey's years of being on the Ellington plantation, Jeffrey had attempted to run away multiple times. He was trying to escape to go find Dorcas. Dorcas was Jeffrey's love who had been sold away to Mr. Rodney, who lived in Ruleville Mississippi. Throughout the years Ellington had spent so much money chasing down Jeffrey every time he ran away, he regretted not buying Dorcas. He realized it would have been cheaper to have bought her than constantly going after Jeffrey. Ellington tried beating Jeffrey to make him stop running away, but Jeffrey wasn't going to let anything stop him from finding Dorcas. He had to be with her or else he felt as though he was going to die.
Later on after the Civil war came and passed all the slaves had been freed. Jeffery had set out on the road to Mississippi to find Dorcas. However, when he found her, he had noticed that she was nursing a baby and had two small children. He realized that Dorcas had moved on and started a family. He then confronted her and begged for her to come with him. She sobbed and apologized for not waiting for him. Dorcas explains how she had married a good man and had a family with him, so she could not just leave them behind. She apologized again to Jeffrey and then left with her children back into the house. Jeffrey stood outside the house for a long time before a kind man asked him if he needed help. Jeffrey thanked the man and left.
Afterwards Jeffrey did not know what to do anymore. He had no where to go. He had spent so many years with the sole purpose of finding Dorcas only to be rejected. Jeffrey would have rather continued being a slave so at least then he could still have his dream of finding Dorcas. With his dream gone he did not know what else to do with his newly found freedom. Having nothing left anymore Jeffrey then asks God to forgive his next actions hoping to find peace in death.
This picture depicts the little cabin Dorcas and her new family lived in.
Analysis: Common women
Gender Stereotypes have always had an influence on society and are apparent almost everywhere including films, media, and literature. Gender stereotypes can occur whenever you apply generic attributes, opinions or roles toward either gender. When one were to examine Julius Lester's novel Day of Tears through a feminist lens, it is simple to see that one of his strongest intended themes was when facing a challenge people revert to following common gender stereotypes. Proof and specific examples of this theme can be found in Interlude 5 of the passage.
In Interlude 5 the critical theory, of people following common gender stereo types, is extremely eminent. An example of this would be when Jeffrey discovers Dorcas had not waited for him and married someone else. In the 1800's it was very standard and typical for women to marry as soon as possible. Women were not supposed to wait and marry for love. When Dorcas and Jeffrey were faced with a hardship and was forced to be separated, Dorcas had fallen into the general gender role and started a family anyway. Another example of this lens could be found when Dorcas was at home taking care of her children while her husband was out working in the field. She had been portrayed as a trivial house wife and caretaker, meanwhile her husband was out with the other men doing more labor work. These examples can allow one to view this specific section with a better perspective of the theme.
Subsequently, this specific theme of following gender stereotypes can also be found outside of that particular section of the text. In chapter 2, Mattie works as a cook and maid for Master Butler unlike her husband who manages most of the outdoors work. Her daughter, Emma, serves as a maid and caretaker of Master Butlers two younger daughters, Sarah and Frances. The gender stereotype of women being better at taking care of children and house work is very evident here. Emma is considered to be so much of an influential and loving caretaker that Sarah actually tends to prefer Emma's company than her own father. Another example of this lens can be found in chapter 5 and 6 during the slave auction. Male slaves tended to cost either more or less than the female slaves due to the fact that young men were considered to be more valuable for yard work and women for house work.
Over all when faced with a challenge people revert to following common gender stereotypes is an obvious theme in the novel Day of Tears. If one is able to comprehend the connections of feminism found in Interlude 5 of Day of Tears and throughout the rest of the novel then you can clearly see how most of the characters in the passage fell into common gender stereotypes and did not break many.