Johnny and Cush are in the middle of a battle. They hear a shrill scream and both slam their bodies to the ground. Johnny gets up a minute later, covered in a thick layer of dirt, and realized that Cush is dead still and oozing with blood. Johnny could leave Cush there to die, but he carries him onto his wagon and insists that he stay keep Cush company while his leg heals- even though Cush suggested that Johnny leave him and head home. The book With Every Drop of Blood, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier, is a story about an unlikely friendship between Cush, an African American Union soldier, and Johnny, a southern white boy, set during the civil war. In the beginning of the book, Johnny is an ignorant racist. However, Johnny’s friendship with Cush helps him overcome his racist views.
Johnny is shocked when he is captured by Cush. He is used to being superior to African Americans, not being commanded and pushed around by one. Everyone back home says it is beneath the dignity of a white man to have to fight “darkies” as equals, and Johnny agrees. He is even questioning whether or not Cush has the brains to know how to shoot a rifle. Johnny thinks to himself, “Darkies weren’t smart enough for much, which is why they had to have white people over them to tell them how to do things” (p. 77). Being surrounded by racists his whole life has shaped Johnny’s opinions about black people, but those opinions change as he gets to know Cush better. Johnny starts to see things from the African American’s point of view. He pretends to go to bury Jeb, when he was really going to make an escape and go head home. He gets caught by the Union soldiers and brought back to the camp. There, he gets talking to Cush about his former life as a slave. Cush tells Johnny how his back was whipped raw just for taking a piece of pork from a pig, right after his father was sold off. Johnny thinks about his home, where people said blacks were lazy, greedy, and too dumb to...
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