Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Who Comes With Cannons by Patricia Beatty

Truth Hopkins, a young Quaker girl, gets more than she bargained for when arriving at her Aunt and Uncle's home in North Carolina at the start of the Civil War. Truth, whose father becomes hospitalized and mother deceased, must stay with her relatives after leaving Indiana. After getting the cold shoulder from her cousin, Truth discovers that it isn't because she isn't welcome in their home - but that her Aunt, Uncle, and cousins aid in the transport of slaves through the underground railroad. Slowly, they gain trust in Truth to keep their secret and eventually she helps them with their activities.

Because of the fact that Quakers do not believe in war, they will not fight on either side, angering the neighbors in their small town; however, her cousins are forced into joining the Confederate Army. When Robert is captured by Union troops, Truth and her Uncle embark on the dangerous journey up north to set him free from the prison in Elmira, NY. Uncle gets hurt and cannot continue the journey with Truth, so she is forced to continue on her own. She is able to free her cousin by asking Frederick Douglass to plead with Abraham Lincoln on her behalf. Truth's determination and strong spirit see her through her journey back home, as she shares her story at the First Meeting with her fellow "Friends" at the meetinghouse.

Truth's experiences upon arriving to North Carolina prompted her maturity and development as a character from the beginning to the end of the story. First, her father is ill and then dies and she must begin a new life with family that she barely knows. Second, she is confronted with issues of slavery and war that closely involves her relatives. Third, she assumes the responsibility of running the area school with her friend Martha as Mr. Hartling, their teacher, joins the Confederate Army. Finally, she takes on the daunting task of rescuing her cousin from the Union jail, while risking her life. Although Truth is only twelve years old, the events that occur prompt her to grow up at a faster rate, while opening up her eyes to the harsh realities of war. Beatty closely develops her characters and plot that allows for readers to understand the Quaker religion and how others were discriminatory to their beliefs. "The risky choice to create a heroine who plays a passive role for much of the story succeeds in the end--Truth's quiet determination allows for readers to view the Civil War from the perspective of a group persecuted by both sides." ~ Publisher's Weekly
After reading this novel, I was intrigued by how Quakers such as Truth and her family stayed true to their beliefs, despite the threats of violence brought on my others that opposed their religious practices. This brought on my own research in finding out what the majority of Quakers decided to do in the Civil War - was it similar to Truth's family? "Even though a few Quakers did fight in the Civil War, the vast majority refused to violate their peace testimony and thereby suffered consequences. Northern Friends had to pay fines or had their property confiscated." (http://www.drwilliams.org/)

1 comment:

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