Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Worthy Brown’s Daughter"

Former trial attorney Phillip Margolin has been writing full-time since 1966. All of his many novels have been New York Times bestsellers.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Worthy Brown's Daughter, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Worthy Brown’s Daughter is in Chapter Ten. Caleb Barbour invites several powerful men to his home to meet the Reverend Dr. Arthur Fuller. Fuller is in Portland to lecture on the benefits of slavery at a rally in support of John C. Breckinridge, a pro-slavery Democrat who is running against Abraham Lincoln in the presidential race. Fifteen-year-old Roxanne, who Barbour is holding as a slave, is serving refreshments. The men ignore her as if she was a piece of furniture while they discuss the inferiority of the Negro race. On page 69 we find Roxanne in her room thinking about what she has heard. She asks herself, "Am I a Human Being?"
Mr. Barbour had given Roxanne a candle. Her room was pitch black when she extinguished it. The darkness did not cool the room but it was conducive to thought, and tonight she was thinking about what Mr. Barbour and his guests had said about her people and apes. Roxanne did not know what an ape was but she suspected it was some kind of animal that resembled a Negro. Animals were less than human and Mr. Goodfellow seemed to think that the way her face slanted indicated a closer relationship to the brute than the human. In her experience, most Negroes were treated more like an animal than a human, but her father had assured her that the only difference between Negroes and whites was the color of their skin. He had seen the skeletons of dead white men and dead Negroes and the insides of injured white men and Negroes and had told her that there was no difference between the bones and guts of the races that he could see.

Was it the thoughts of white people and Negroes that made them different, then? Did white people have bigger thoughts? Whites had written all of the books she’d read in secret and she knew of none that had been written by her own people. Was the capacity of blacks to think on things smaller? If so, how was she able to understand what she heard and read? It was all very confusing.
Roxanne begins the novel as a physically and sexually abused fifteen-year-old girl with low self-esteem. During the course of the story she grows into a strong young woman. On page 69, for the first time, she starts wondering whether she has any worth as a person.
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--Marshal Zeringue