Ursa Corregidora, the narrator, a twenty-five-year-old blues singer at Happy’s Café in a small town in central Kentucky. She is a beautiful, light-skinned black woman. Ursa must undergo a hysterectomy as a result of injuries sustained when her drunken husband pushed her down some steps; she was pregnant at the time. Her consequent inability to bear children ineffably traumatizes her: It makes her feel like less of a woman and also contributes to her sense of guilt that she is somehow failing the generations of women who were her ancestors, because the women in her family have always been told to “make generations” to bear witness to their former slavery under Corregidora, a Brazilian plantation master. Her despair at being the last of the line prolongs her recovery, and she apathetically allows herself to be taken care of by Tadpole, her boss at Happy’s, whom she soon marries. Her indifference to him is exemplified in her inability to show love for him; later, she admits a resentment toward all men. Her deep-seated pain finds expression in her singing voice, now richer with the exquisite anguish she has experienced. When Tadpole reacts with the same jealousy as her first husband, Ursa leaves him to sing in another club, the Spider, where she is protected from the advances of men not only by a bodyguard but also by her now instinctive aversion to them. Twenty-two years later, still nursing a reserve of hatred toward him mixed with resignation, she reunites with her first husband.
Mutt Thomas, Ursa’s first husband, for whom she feels a strong sexual...
(The entire section is 670 words.)