Margaret Walker's Jubilee has been called an African-American Gone With the Windas the main character, Vyry, undergoes harships that she overcomes. Like Scarlet O'Hara's tribulations, Vyry has many trials by fire, literally and figuratively. Here are some of the major events that change Vyry's life:
As the mulatto daughter of John Morris Dutton, a wealthy slave owner whose wife notices the resemblance, Elvira Dutton, known as Vyry, is sent to another plantation.
She is later brought back to the Dutton plantation where she is made the servant of her half-sister Lillian Dutton.
She meets a freed black, Randall Ware, who is a blacksmith. They fall in love, and Randall promises to free Vyry after they are married. However, John Dutton, her father, refuses because if she is freed, then he can no longer have any claims on her.
Nevertheless. Randall and Vyry marry and have two children. Unfortunately, Vyry learns one day that she is to be sold at auction. She beseeches Brother Zeke, who helps with the Underground Railroad, to come to her aid. He proposes a plan in which a white man will buy her, but the money will belong to Randall, her husband. Unfortunately, this plan falls through, and hostility between blacks and whites increase. Randall tries to get Vyry to escape, but she is reluctant to leave her children. When she does try, she is caught and whipped unmercifully.
The Civil War has begun and John Dutton, Jr. goes to West Point and is later mortally wounded. His brother-in-law is also mortally wounded, leaving Lillian a widow. Vyry continues to care for her half-sister.
She is also forced to cook for the encroaching Union Soldiers. When she is attacked by a stranger, Innis Brown comes to her rescue. He asks her to marry him, but Vyry tells him she is married to Randall and refuses to believe he is dead.
Finally, Vyry agrees to marry Innis and they leave the plantation.
Vyry bravely creates a new life with Innis. However, it seems that Nature os against them while racial hostility continues. In a mule-drawn wagon, they settle in one area for several years, but later realize that they are on the floodplain.
So, they move to a cabin formerly occupied by whites where their son Harry is born. After a few years, the Browns realize that they have been exploited by the landowner, Mr. Pippins, and they move.
When their wagon breaks down near Troy, Alabama, Vyry and Innis see the white cloaked KKK men who take away a black woman for "entertaining" white men.
Later, they meet the Jacobsons who help them locate some free land where they build a house and outbuildings. Without meaning to, Vyry offends Mrs. Jacobson, things escalate, and the KKK burns their home. The Browns leave the area under the escort of black soliers.
They arrive at Luverne, Alabama, but the area has suffered famine. Vyry's next child is born dead.Vyry sees Lillian on the Dutton plantation; Lillian is delusional, repeating four or five sentences over and over.
After Vyry assists in the birth of one of their children, she agrees to build a home with the help of the whites. An old conflict between her husband Innis and her son Jim escalates and Innis beats Jim. Vyry defends her son, but talks to him about returning hate with love.
Randall Ware turns up and wants to take Jim to become a preacher in Selma. Alabama. He and Innis argue, but when Vyry shows them her scars and says she has forgiven, they reconcile.