is the voice of black nationalism and radicalism in the novel. It is he who plants the idea of freedom in Vyry’s head, giving concrete social reality to the sermons and prayers that God would send a Moses to free her and her people. He is bitter because whites do not respect his rights as a free citizen, and he resists their efforts to cheat, terrorize, and emasculate him. Born a slave, Innis is hard-working and courageous in his protection of Vyry and as naive, conservative, and practical as she is. All he wants in life is a farm of his own where he could raise his own crops and family. (Bell 289)
In order to better understand the significance of the romantic triangle between Vyry, Randall Ware and Innis Brown, the historical veracity of the story has to be taken into account. In Walker’s own words, an important purpose for writing the novel was “to substantiate my material, to authenticate the story I had heard from my grandmother’s lips” (Lauret 198). In this sense, Jubilee stands on par with the slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. The reminiscence of these vital historical works are found in details such as Vyry’s cruel mistress, her first severe punishment, “daily life both at work and after hours in the Quarters, the thirst for freedom and the despair Vyry feels when the dream seems unattainable” (Beaulieu 16). Other features of slave life given by the author include “slave auctions (Vyry herself is put up for sale once), public beatings ( Vyry witnesses the execution of two enslaved women who were accused of poisoning their masters, along with other enslaved persons as part of the Fourth of July festivities), the ever-present patrollers, and a failed escape attempt” (Beaulieu 16). Yet, a crucial area where Jubilee differs from the preceding works of the genre (as well as later works such as Dessa Rose, Beloved, and Family) is its emphasis on the protagonist’s love life.
In conclusion, Margaret Walker attaches substantial importance to the relationship between Vyry and her two lovers. Consequently, she features them together at several points in the novel. Through these excursions into the interpersonal realm of the protagonist’s eventful life Walker is able to offer some value beyond the merely political and historical one. Moreover, this intertwining narrative structure employed with respect to Vyry and her two lovers brings out the contrasting character types of the two male protagonists. This literary manoeuvre lets itself to be read in terms of symbolisms of love, politics, and society.
Beaulieu, Elizabeth Ann. Black Women Writers and the American Neo-Slave Narrative: Femininity Unfettered. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999. Print.
Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts, 1989. Print.
Cash, Floris Barnett. “Kinship and Quilting: An Examination of an African-American Tradition.” The Journal of Negro History 80.1 (1995): 30-35. Pritnt.
Dieng, Babacar. “Reclamation in Walker’s Jubilee: The Context of Development of the Historical Novel.” Journal of Pan African Studies 2.4 (2008): 117-123. Print.
Graham, Maryemma. “The Fusion of Ideas: An Interview with Margaret Walker Alexander.” African American Review 27.2 (1993): 279-286. Print.
Lauret, Maria. Liberating Literature: Feminist Fiction in America. New York: Routledge, 1994. Print.
Lowery, Charles D., and John F. Marszalek, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present. New York: Greenwood, 1992. Print.
Walker, Margaret. Jubilee. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 1966. Print.