In the beginning of Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb by Augusta Trobaugh, Pet addresses a person known only as “baby girl.” Pet, an older African American woman, wants to reveal to baby girl all the family secrets that she has kept hidden for most of her life. Unless she has the opportunity to pass them along to a younger generation, they will, she laments, melt away like an ice cube.
Pet’s narration gradually reveals the personal histories of four Georgia women—Miss Cora, her nieces Wynona and Lauralee, and Pet herself, who has been a lifelong servant and companion to the three white women. Her narrative moves back and forth between the present and the past, interspersed with interior monologues, italicized in the text.
On a cold November day, Pet remembers the circumstances of each of the women’s childhoods, how she and Wynona were born on the same day, how Lauralee came along six years later, and how Pet and Cora as girls would spend the summers together playing with Wynona and Lauralee. As Pet grew older, the intimacy of the relationships lessened because it was not proper for the white girls to play with her as an equal. Pet also remembers her mother telling her that in addition to Patricia (her given name), she also received her great-grandmother’s name, an African word that means “Sunrise.”
Across the street from the women lives Miss Addie, who is near death. Before she dies, she calls Pet to her bedside and asks her to promise to make Miss Cora remember about someone named Hope. Miss Cora is old enough that she has started to lapse into dementia; she often remembers a grave at Brushy Creek Baptist Cemetery that she wants to find. In one of her rambling stories about family history, Miss Cora says that this grave belongs to an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Lauralee displays signs of mental or emotional distress. She never speaks and does not attend Miss Addie’s funeral.
Through flashbacks, Pet gradually unfolds a pivotal story about Wynona and Lauralee. When Wynona was young, a widower named Mr. Adkins courted her and eventually proposed. Wynona first girlishly laughed at...
(The entire section is 883 words.)