Why does Mrs. Brown in Elijah of Buxton always wear black?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Brown in the book Elijah of Buxton always wears black because she is in mourning. Even thought the death which has so affected her life occurred two years previously, she has still not gotten over it, and the manifestations of her grief go beyond just the constant wearing of black. Mrs. Brown sometimes wanders out in the night, and squats among the trees in the moonlight, "brushing dirt from a spot on the ground that (doesn't) look no different from any other spot in the woods." Elijah says,

"She always (wears) black and some of the times (isn't) in such a happy mind as she (is) today. Her only baby, a two-year-old boy, died hard of the fever two years pass and ever since that happened, Mrs. Brown (is) being bothered by spells."

Mrs. Brown says that she will start wearing colors other than black when "the Lord blesse(s) her with another child," but it is well known, upon the testimony of the settlement midwife and a doctor from Chatham, that this would be impossible. Still, Mrs. Brown clings to her hope, and despite the idiosyncracies in her behavior brought about by her baby's death, she is well liked in the community. Sometimes, she acts perfectly normally, as if "there (is) nothing plaguing her," and, as Elijah says, "no one in the Settlement (can) bake the way she does" (Chapter 5).