(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Honoré Grandissime and Aurora Nancanou, both members of the Creole aristocracy though they are unaware of one another’s identity, meet at a masked ball and fall in love at first sight. Honoré is a young merchant and the head of the Grandissime family. Aurora, a young widow, is from the De Grapion family. Aurora’s husband accused Honoré’s uncle, Agricola Fusilier, of cheating at cards, which led to a duel in which Agricola killed him. With that, Agricola cleared his honor, and he also collected the gambling debt of Aurora’s husband, his entire estate. Aurora and her daughter Clotilde were left penniless. Agricola gave the estate to Honoré, making him a wealthy man.

Joseph Frowenfeld, a young American immigrant, arrives in New Orleans with his parents and sisters. All are stricken with fever, and only Joseph survives. The lonely young man forms a friendship with his physician, Dr. Keene. Joseph and Honoré meet by chance one day and find a common interest in their concern over the injustice of slavery and the caste system of New Orleans society. Honoré’s life, however, depends upon these institutions. Joseph wishes them to be wiped out at once.

Deciding to earn his living as a druggist, Joseph opens a small shop and soon becomes friendly with his aristocratic landlord. The landlord is Honoré’s half brother, who bears the same name but is not acknowledged as a member of the family because he is a quadroon. He is called the Darker Honoré. Joseph finds another new friend in Agricola, and he is also struck by the charm of Aurora and Clotilde when they call to make purchases. He learns more about Aurora from Dr. Keene. The physician tells him about Palmyre, a freed slave who had once been Aurora’s maid and who hates Agricola in part because of his role in the capture and punishment of her husband, the rebellious slave Bras Coupé. One night, Joseph is awakened by pistol shots nearby. A few minutes later, Dr. Keene and several others enter the shop with Agricola, who has been stabbed; his companions had fired on his assailant.

Several days later, Aurora calls upon her landlord in order to make some arrangements about the rent she cannot pay. She knows her landlord’s name is Honoré Grandissime, but she does not connect this name with the man she loves until learning that they are half brothers.

When Dr. Keene falls sick, he asks Joseph to attend to one of his patients. The patient is Palmyre, who was...

(The entire section is 1006 words.)