J. California Cooper
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In this wise, beguiling, beautiful novel set in the era of the Civil War, an award-winning playwright and author paints a haunting portrait of a woman named Always, born a slave, and four generations of her African-American family.
cause there was nobody else to do the work. There wasn’t one soft line in her gray old face with the droopin, sad, dark round eyes filled with sad memories and questions. Where was them babies? She did not dislike Always; she did not like her either. Just almost nothin left in her for feelins. But she was glad there was another woman here now to bear some of the burden and strain of her life. She was a dark, ashy brown color. Head wrapped in a flour cloth rag, dress many times patched and
house, cleaning or somethin like that, when white ladies be talkin and they say that “them nigger womens is sex fiends” or somethin like that and blame it all on the slave women! Just like they wasn’t slaves or that they had made them babies all by their own selves … or forced them white men! Anyway … my mama had a hard, hard life. All day she blonged to the Mistress for the work in the big house, and in the nights he chose, she blonged to the Master. Didn’t have her own self no time. A somebody
with a mind will surely go crazy like that cause no matter what you think, it don’t count for nothin. She didn’t have nothin of her own but me, and I blonged to them too. And I could go anytime! They told her that, often. See … my mama was pretty and that made the Mistress hate her. And smart … that made the Master want to rule her more. They didn’t want her to have just what only she was born with. Some of the other slaves didn’t like her neither! But my mama was sweet to me. I remember that
growin that way. I stopped to rest under one of them trees. You know what I did? I fell into a deep, deep sleep. So peaceful, so restful I slept I don’t know how long, chile! When I finally woke, I blive it was cause of the noise of war. It was so many years later. It was bout fifty years later! I rushed, I flew to where I had last seen Always and Master. Things had changed so much, oh, how things had changed. Always was dyin. Old, old and dyin. So I knew this was the end for me too. My
read. The truth has set me free and I know you ain’t nothin, white man. The Lord ain’t give us to you.” SLASH! WHOSH! SLASH! went that whip again. But he was most gone, couldn’t hardly hear him then, but he said it one more time: “I can read.” Then he died. The Master bade them keep whippin him even if he was dead. Ain’t that somethin sad? And still, that wasn’t the meanest thing I ever seen done on that place was my home. Home. All I could do for myself and my children was to add a stone to my