Crumbs from the Table of Joy

by Lynn Nottage

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In what ways does Lynn Nottage make the Epilogue of Crumbs From the Table of Joy a fitting ending to the play?

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"Crumbs from the Table of Joy" by Lynn Nottage is a coming-of-age story about a young African-American girl named Ernestine Crump in 1950s Brooklyn. Throughout the play, we witness Ernestine's experiences as she navigates her way through a world of racial and gender inequality.

The Epilogue of the play serves as a fitting ending in several ways:

  1. Closure: The Epilogue provides closure by showing us where Ernestine ends up as an adult. We learn that she has become a successful radio journalist, a career that allows her to use her voice and intellect, and that she is happily married with children. Her success is a testament to her resilience and intelligence, and it affirms the promise we saw in her as a young girl.

  2. Reflection: The Epilogue is a reflective moment where Ernestine looks back on her past. It offers a poignant perspective on her growth and the experiences that shaped her. This reflection allows us to fully appreciate her journey and the significance of her story.

  3. Theme reinforcement: The themes of the play - including racial tension, gender inequality, family dynamics, and the pursuit of dreams - are reinforced in the Epilogue. Ernestine's success as a radio journalist underscores the theme of overcoming adversity, and her reflections on her family and past experiences reinforce the themes of family dynamics and racial tension.

  4. Tone: The Epilogue maintains the hopeful tone of the play. Despite the struggles Ernestine has faced, she remains optimistic about her future. This tone is consistent with the rest of the play and leaves the audience with a sense of hope.

  5. Narrative device: The Epilogue also serves as a narrative device. Throughout the play, Ernestine has been our guide, narrating events and providing insights into the characters and their motivations. In the Epilogue, she continues this role, bringing us full circle and tying up the narrative in a satisfying way.

Overall, the Epilogue of "Crumbs from the Table of Joy" serves as a fitting ending by providing closure, reflecting on the themes of the play, maintaining the hopeful tone, and using the narrative device of Ernestine's voice to tie up the story.

Expert Answers

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The generated response is correct in general, but it does get some of the details wrong. The Epilogue does not show Ernestine as a successful radio journalist. The play concludes with her high school graduation and alludes to her future, but makes no specific mention of her career. If anything, it hints at her advocacy work in the Civil Rights movement, when she will "ride the Freedom Bus back home, enraged and vigilant." It also alludes to her family life where she will marry and have two children, one who goes off to college and the other who is lost to a drug addiction.

The rest of the generated which is about reflection, theme reinforcement, tone, and narrative devices are all spot-on. They effectively explain how the Epilogue ties the play together.

You might also consider the following points about the role of the Epilogue in this play:

While graduation signifies achievement, Ernestine's reflection on the principal's words adds a layer of bittersweetness. It reminds the audience of the harsh realities that might await her in a world with racial prejudice. 

The "ragged lace border" on Ernestine's graduation gown could be interpreted as a symbol of the struggles and imperfections within her journey. However, she still wears it with pride. This highlights her sense of resilience and determination.

While some details about Ernestine's future are mentioned, the Epilogue largely leaves her future open-ended. This allows the audience to imagine the possibilities for her life beyond high school.

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