Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Hush explores themes of identity: Who does a person become once all the pieces that make up her past have been stripped away, never to be spoken of again? On what foundation can she build a new life, with a new name? As Toswiah becomes Evie, she discovers that a clean slate is also an empty one until she fills it. Despite the presence of a supportive, united family, each member is forced to experience an evolution of identity on her or his own. Hush is also built upon an undercurrent theme of justice and courage, the sense of a moral imperative to speak truth and stand beside the fallen, even when it means sacrificing all stability, history, and meaning in one’s life. Beneath the turmoil of uprooted lives, that piece of the story stands rock solid—the family believes in the choice to testify because it was the right thing to do.