Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Carvers’ George, a biography of George Washington Carver, Florence Crannell Means creates a believable and realistic story of a true American hero. Born around 1860 to slaves, the infant George was kidnapped along with his mother by raiders who later abandoned him, thinking that he was too sickly. George was found and returned to his mother’s owners, the Carvers, who through desperate efforts saved him. The Carvers’ George survived, although in a society in which he had no surname or known birthdate. Means documents the struggles of this sickly African-American orphan, who was determined to receive an education and to accomplish great things.

In presenting young Carver, Means describes his eagerness to work, his devotion to God, and his diligent mastery of many skills: laundering, cooking, sewing, plant-ing and nurturing plants, painting, and playing musical instruments. Yet his major goal—to acquire an education—remained constant. He was accepted on a scholarship at Highland University in Kansas, but he was rejected when the university president met him. According to Means, his words—“But we don’t take niggers here”—signified one of the most devastating experiences in Carver’s life, one that took him years to put in the back of his mind and that caused him to steer clear of college for several years. In 1890, he tried once more and became the first African American admitted to Simpson College in Iowa. After completing...

(The entire section is 442 words.)