The Keepers of the House
There is an interesting part of history that goes unnoticed. The treatment of blacks in the South during the time of slavery plays an intricate part of America’s history, which gets frequently overlooked. The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau sheds light on this time period, following a family, living in rural Alabama in the 1960’s. Grau explains this family: “All in all the Howland’s thrived. They farmed and hunted; they made whiskey and rum and took it to market down the Providence River to Mobile (Grau 12). The story follows three generations of the Howland family living in a community that ultimately turns on them. Grau takes inspiration from the time period along with having multiple themes to craft an interesting and impactful Pulitzer Prize novel. The Howland’s were a family that lived in the same area for many years. William Howland, the fifth, lost his wife, leaving him to take care of his young daughter Abigail and a son William who dies shortly after. Abigail then marries a man who leaves her with her own daughter Abigail. William’s daughter dies and leaves him with a granddaughter to take care of. Soon after, William hires an African American, Margaret, woman as a housekeeper. Abigail talks of the lasting affects William and Margaret left on her: “I am caught and tangled around by their doings. It is as if their lives left a weaving of indivisible threads in the air of this house, of this town, of this county. And I stumbled and fell into them” (Grau 6). Around town, she became know as his mistress and mother of his other children. In secret, they marry for the children’s sake. Later, after the children grew up, they were sent up north so they could live as normal white citizens. Abigail later marries a man named John Tolliver who aligns with the Klu Klux Klan during his run for governor. Robert, the eldest of the Howland brothers was outraged by this and released an article hurting Tolliver’s campaign. Tolliver and...
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