Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 208
In The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, Henry Shackleford pretends to be a girl when he is under the care of John Brown, a slavery abolitionist. The story is narrated through the eyes of Henry who is also known as Henrietta. He is 12 years old. Brown refers to him as Onion. Brown is a staunch Christian who believes in the power of prayer. When Henry transforms to Onion, the author takes on a lighter, satirical tone. For instance, Onion claims he was given sufficient food when he was a slave but rarely eats when he is with Brown. McBride uses such instances to shift from the usual narrative of slaves constantly being mistreated.
I found the book thought provoking and interesting. The history revealed in the story is exciting and the author approaches the theme of slavery creatively. In addition, the author intentionally includes grammatical errors in his work. For instance, instead of writing, “gave,” McBride uses “gived.” It is noteworthy that at some point in the book, the author portrays Brown from a humorous perspective. For example, he is described as a person who talks to God constantly and follows His commandments, however, his missions are constantly faced with calamities, and he ends up being hanged.