Letters from a New England Negro

Sherley A. Williams
1980 Iowa Review : literary quarterly  
Hannah, a young black woman of free, New England ancestry. Her passion and intelligence are often masked by an earnest gentility learned from her abolitionist mentors. It is through the assumed forms of gentility?her slightly stilted speech, her hats which are both chic and sensual?that she expresses an innate dignity and an integrity of vision that are slightly at variance with the conventional New England schoolmarm she thinks she will be. Her self assurance, at times, is undermined by
more » ... s of insecurity?she is a teacher as much by luck as by training. She has also a robust sense of humor and a sense of herself as a participant in the grand adventure of educating the minds and, as she ultimately realizes, understanding and communicating with the hearts and spirits of the ex-slaves she has come to teach. The Setting The action takes place on a southern plantation that houses a school for ex-slaves run by northern teachers. There are three playing areas, the parlor and Hannah's bedroom in the Big House, a front stoop in the former Slave Quarters, and the School, symbol of a new relationship between Quarters and House.
doi:10.17077/0021-065x.2665 fatcat:rqjdfztqczeqnf64sv4ircix5q