Jubilee Essay - Critical Essays

Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series Jubilee Analysis

Jubilee appeals to young readers not merely as an exciting book with a happy ending but also, more profoundly, because it shows how one can transcend the most miserable circumstances by trusting to God and preserving a spirit of generosity and compassion, even toward those by whom one has been injured. Vyry is a heroic figure. Moreover, her story is true.

As a child born into slavery, Vyry is even more helpless than other children. She loses her mother because, unlike Big Missy, Hetta cannot refuse the master’s attentions. Worn out by constant childbearing, she dies young. Where another child would turn to her father for comfort, Vyry cannot do so, for Marse John will not acknowledge her as his daughter. Tortured and abused by Big Missy, Vyry has no one to whom she can turn. The other slaves cannot help, and her father will not.

In fact, although he is not sadistic like Big Missy and his overseer, Ed Grimes, John Dutton must be held largely responsible for the reign of evil on his plantation. His self-indulgence with the slave women is humiliating for Big Missy, who, unable to vent her anger on her husband, turns it on his black children. John Dutton’s self-importance takes him into politics and away from his duties at home, leaving the plantation in the hands of Big Missy and Grimes; he then chooses not to notice how many slaves are disappearing or being murdered. Vyry has firsthand experience of her father’s habit of lying;...

(The entire section is 568 words.)