Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 506
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson is a moving and utterly tragic story of interracial love. It explores the all-too-often painful, violent, and sometimes deadly experiences that arise when when two people of different races fall in love in a racist, intolerant society. High school students Ellie and Miah must deal with familial and societal pressure to not pursue their romantic affection for each other. From the beginning, Ellie sees the contradictions in her family's response to her feelings for Miah when she confides in her sister, Annie. Even though Annie faces disapproval from her mother for her lesbian relationship, she immediately begins advising that Ellie not be involved in an interracial relationship. In this conversation, Annie is unable to see how the unjust responses she faces from her mother about her relationship is being replicated in her response to Ellie. When Ellie and Miah begin spending public time together, they experience societal intolerance and rejection.
Random white people in public respond to Ellie and Miah's relationship with a sense of fear for Ellie because of her proximity to Miah. Miah must deal with the horrible racist assumptions that he is dangerous because he is black. The two must also face a group of aggressive white peers who shout racist slurs as the two attempt to spend time together. While Miah's mother greets Ellie's presence in Miah's life with warmth and welcome, Ellie is unsure that her family will extend the same warmth to Miah. As such, she hesitates to introduce him to them. Tragically, she is never able to introduce Miah to her family, because a racist white cop shoots Miah dead. The police are in pursuit of someone who happens to be black, and upon seeing Miah running jubilantly through the snow, they kill him.
This novel is an absolutely powerful and necessary book for everyone, especially white people living in this country,...
(The entire section contains 506 words.)
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