Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

InFriend: The Story of George Fox and the Quakers, Jane Yolen draws a sympathetic portrait of the founder of the Quaker movement. Born in a village in the English Midlands in 1624, Fox trod a long and tireless path before his death in London in 1691. Yolen’s chapters follow the steps of Fox’s career, beginning with his childhood as an unusually grave weaver’s son. His preaching career began to flower when he was barely in his twenties, and from that time on, he wandered throughout England, gradually establishing the distinctive doctrines of the Quakers. A map at the beginning of the book helps the young reader to follow Fox’s journeys.

Among other sources, Yolen relies particularly on Fox’s own Journal (1694), from which she mines extensive quotations that effectively convey the flavor and style of Fox’s celebrated preaching. This preaching landed Fox in prison several times, and Yolen details the hardships of seventeenth century prison life, which eventually ruined Fox’s health but not his faith.

In an era that valued authority and tradition, Fox’s messages seemed subversive, with their emphasis on such ideals as pacifism and the equality of men and women and of the races. Particularly annoying to the authorities of the time was the Quaker refusal to perform such seemingly trivial customary rituals as doffing a hat in the presence of a social superior or taking oaths. The refusal to perform such acts was to...

(The entire section is 458 words.)