Themes and Meanings
Among the themes that can be traced through Jubilee are the centrality of folklore, myth, and music in the black heritage; the roles of black women as preservers and transmitters of the cultural identity of their people; and the importance of black Christianity in the struggle for freedom. It is also rewarding to look at Jubilee as a book about illusion and reality.
As Walker has pointed out, her perspective on history is not that of whites, either northern or southern, but that of African Americans. In the conversations among slave owners in her novel, and in their speeches to the slaves, it is evident that the white masters have deluded themselves into believing that their motives for keeping slaves are noble, that the slaves are well treated and happy, and that any hopes of freedom they might cherish are simply proof of their childlike ignorance.
Because, as Walker shows, such justifications for the suppression of African Americans did not disappear with the Emancipation Proclamation, the discussions between Innis Brown, Vyry, and Randall Ware at the end of the book are all related to another major theme in the novel, that of the struggle for freedom. Given the blindness of whites, Walker seems to be asking, how can blacks progress beyond nominal freedom to full equality?
Each of the three main characters has a different answer. Innis Brown takes a passive approach. Despite his experiences with oppression, both...
(The entire section is 493 words.)