Question answered by Rosanne Rosen, Former Senior Vice President of Operations
Discussion Questions for The Invention of Wings-Going Against the Grain
Did you know about Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their role in abolition and women’s rights before you read the book? What kind of courage do you think it takes to go against your societal norms?
I had never heard of either woman prior to reading this novel although I did take the time to research them as well as some of the other characters in the book such as Denmark Vesey. It is remarkable how many people in our country’s history were at the root of trying to create change and yet become just a mere footnote, if even that. I can’t imagine the courage of character and conviction in one’s own beliefs and own sense of justice one would need to go against societal norms.
There is a pivotal conversation between Lucretia and Sarah after Sarah receives the letter from Handful that her ‘mauma’ had returned. Sarah is still feeling the helplessness that she can do nothing to speak out against slavery. Lucretia replies, “God fills us with all sorts of yearnings that go against the grain of the world – but the fact those yearnings often come to nothing, well, I doubt that’s God’s doing. I think we know that’s men’s doing….I suspect God plants these yearnings in us so we’ll at least try and change the course of things. We must try, that’s all.”
What a profound quote. How many times have we been appalled at what we have read or heard about; and yet, do nothing about it. Sometimes it is as simple as we just don’t know what we can do. All throughout history, and even today, people have been ostracized, ridiculed and shunned for standing up for what they believe in. We only need to look in the papers or watch the news. There are issues I care deeply about and have mobilized with others; however, the operative word and difference between what I have done and what Sarah, Angelina and others did was that I joined others already in the cause. Sarah and Angelina spoke out early on against slavery and, on the surface, gave up so much for what they believed.
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