Summary and Analysis Project

By: Betty Mulugeta

Summary and Analysis Project

By: Betty Mulugeta

Sarah as a Young Woman and Franny Kemble as an Old Lady

Interlude seven and twelve are partial chapters that are narrated by Sarah whom is a grown woman and Fanny Kemple, who has aged and recalls her past. Sarah revisits the day Emma was sold off at the slave auction and bitter animosity towards her father. The day of the slave auction Sarah recalls how devastated she was and the last thing Emma told her. Emma’s last words to Sarah had been to be a person with a heart as good as her mother’s. Sarah had slept with Mattie and Will that night in the barn out of comfort. Now as a mother she understands how rash she was and compares her feelings to those of Mattie’s. After Mr. Butler moved the family to Pennsylvania, all Sarah could do was think about Emma. She had resented her father to his dying day for betraying Mattie and Will by selling Emma. When Mr. Butler was on his death bed hoping to hear Sarah tell him that she loves him, Sarah simply held his hand and walked out the room. She admits the reason why she chose not to tell him was so he could feel the same emotional pain as Mattie and Will felt. She had lost respect for him as a man and her father-- nonetheless everything he has done for her and Frances.

Fanny Kemple introduces interlude twelve with the memory of her husband’s death and her confession to her daughter. She tells Sarah the tale of how she bumped heads with Emma and her husband Joe and how she helped them escape Philadelphia to Canada because there was a risk of them being kidnapped and sold back into slavery. Fanny recieved a note days later that read “The gifts arrived and were sent safely to their destination” (p.163). She made a visit to see Sarah and her family after the war. Sarah wanted to know the whereabouts of Emma and Joe, considering she named her first daughter after her. Fanny came in contact with the person who arranged for Emma and Joe to get to Canada safely. She learned that they are safe in a town called Nova Scotia filled of native-born Canadians and runaway slaves. Sarah and Emma exchanged letters and photographs in the mail. To Fanny’s pleasure, Emma named her daughter Sarah, who read Sarah’s letters to Emma considering she was iliterate.

According to Fanny, Emma and Sarah desired to see eachother again and rekindle their friendship although travel to Nova Scotia was not facile and Sarah could not be away from her family for that amount of time. They still kept in touch and as do their grandchildren. Sarah eventually told Fanny of Emma’s last words to her before the auction, “that she should have a good heart like her mother’s” (p.164). Fanny felt very humbled since she only wished she could have made the slaves’ lives better on the Butler plantation. She wanted to build schools and hospitals for them and let them own the plantation in which so much of their hard labor deserved. Although Fanny divorced Pierce and left feeling unsuccuessful, she had only gave thought to the actions she hadn’t made at the time. Later on, Fanny realizes that simply treating someone with the same respect and dignity you want for yourself is a positive difference in itself.

Caption: This image depicts a connection to how Sarah and Emma kept in contact in the later years (letters) and how although they longed to see each other, the events of the slave auction will have forever changed their lives and relationship.

The Wise Words of the Woman of Day of Tears

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ” According Roseanne Barr, woman have the ability to empower the world when they recognize that they do. When one examines "Interlude 7 and 12" of Julius Lester's novel Day of Tears through a feminist lens, one finds that the idea of strength on the Butler plantation had very little to do with physical attributes. Lester displays throughout his work that strength and power are assumed by gender although that theory changes as each character discovers their fate.

Readers can view Lester's novel as a work that questions the gender roles of a man and woman, strength and morals. One who analyzes interlude 7 on Sarah's behalf, notices how she has matured and thinks for herself instead of letting her father have "power" over her. Sarah shares the words "I felt so proud he said I was Mama's child and not his. I wished Emma had been there to hear him say that about me" (p.109). This direct quote demonstrates how Sarah alone, has far more influence on Emma and other slaves on the plantation than Master Butler himself. An idea that one has to admire about Sarah's character is how prideful she is to be compared to her mother and her refusal to understand why her father sold Emma. Likewise to Emma, Fanny Kemple is one of the most outspoken female characters in Lester's work. According to page one sixty-four, Fanny says "I never thought of myself as having a good heart,...I felt so helpless because there was nothing I could do to make the lives of the slaves better." One should not forget that the main reason why Master Butler and Mrs. Kemple divorced was because Fanny did not like Master Butler owning slaves nor how he made her feel like she had no opinion. Despite leaving the plantation, Fanny had the greatest impact on all the slaves (including Emma) who favored her. She completely breaks the gender stereotype of a woman at that time period whose only concern according to society was to cook, clean and care for children. These stereotypes did not prevent Fanny from telling Master Butler that she wanted him to let them all free.

  Examining the chapters through a feminist theory can give readers a chance to be in a different point of view. An individual can understand that despite Master Butler has a built stature of a man, that has nothing to do with the actuality that he is not the "big man of the house". The relationship between men and women in Lester's novel is portrayed as women being inferior and limited to anything. Instead of men and women being equal partners in life, a man will determine everything about his family's life without question. The irony of this perspective is how the "tables will turn" on Master Butler when his wife leaves-- despite having almost all custody of his daughters, his ex-wife has won the favor of all the slaves that he owned at the time. Analyzing Lester's text as a whole in a feminist lens allows readers to notice that femininity is an arsenal weapon more powerful than a man's biceps.

Ultimately, Sarah and Fanny Kemple are very dominant characters who in one way or another drive the theme of Lester's work. He has given them a powerful voice and the opportunity to break the ancient gender stereotypes of men and women. Distinguishing the chapter through a feminist point of view helps readers have a better comprehension of the theme of the story. Readers can easily identify why Lester did what he did to the fate of his characters and the intentional message he is trying to convey. Understanding of an author's subject matter is essential to the lesson one takes away from a text.


Caption: This image of woman sharing hands is an example that has a purpose to exhibit the power and strength of femininity that Sarah and Fanny have contributed to Julius Lester's novel.  

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