In Jubilee, what is the role of religion in Vyry's life?  

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Vyry is the central character of the novel Jubileeby Margaret Walker , and it is through her eyes that the reader is exposed to the harsh world that she lives in. There are many things that give Vyry strength and comfort as she undergoes her hardships, such as the...

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Vyry is the central character of the novel Jubilee by Margaret Walker, and it is through her eyes that the reader is exposed to the harsh world that she lives in. There are many things that give Vyry strength and comfort as she undergoes her hardships, such as the men she loves and her children. However, prominent among those things that are key to her survival is her religion. Specifically, it is important to note that Vyry's religion is slave religion, which differs from the religion of the white individuals that are around her.

Religion helps to guide Vyry as she encounters many obstacles, such as not being allowed to marry the man she wants, the KKK burning down her home and being forced to flee, and giving birth to a dead child. It gives her a foundation on which she is able to accept the things that happen to her with grace and continually move forward.

Also important to note is that religion gives Vyry the strength that she needs to forgive those who have wronged her. Vyry forgives many people over the course of the story, including her forgiveness of Inniss. Ultimately, Vyry makes the decision not to hate others, though there are many who hate her because of her mixed race heritage, and this is key to understanding the role that religion plays in the novel.

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Vyry acts as the moral core of this novel. As the last child of a black slave and a white plantation owner, she comes to inhabit a hybrid world where she has some physical characteristics that allow her to pass as being white when she is not in the plantation. However, whilst she is in the plantation, her obvious mixed ancestry is a cause of great suffering for her, especially from Salina Dutton, her father's wife and the mistress of the plantation where she lives and works. However, the importance of religion in Vyry's life is shown through her capacity for forgiveness and her sense of loyalty. She brings up her children to value both education and industry, and she shows tremendous compassion in the way that she chooses to stay on in the plantation after the liberation of the slaves to look after Lillian Dutton, the last member of Dutton family who formerly owned her. Note how Vyry expresses her religious values to her son in the following quote:

We supposen to love everybody like God loves us. And when you forgives you feels sorry for the one what hurt you, you returns love for hate, and good for evil. And that stretches your heart and makes you bigger inside with a bigger heart, so's you can love everybody when your heart is big enough.

Although Vyry is shown to be imperfect in some areas, such as her distinction between the black field hands and freed blacks, it is clear that her religious values lie at the very core of who she is as a person and how she relates to those around her, allowing her to demonstrate grace, love, forgiveness, and perhaps what is most impressive, a sense of fortitude that allows her to endure and survive.

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