66 pages 2 hours read

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Part 10 and Song 8Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 10, Sections 1-5 Summary

This summary covers “The Peculiar Institution,” “Plural First Person,” “The Thrilla in Manila,” “Witness My Hand,” and “My Black Female Time.”

In graduate school, Ailey decides to research the history of Wood Place plantation because of her familial connection to it. As she reads about the atrocities of slavery, she finds herself losing weight and constantly feeling angry at the white people surrounding her. She does, however, have the strong support of her professor, Dr. Whitcomb, the only Black faculty member in the department. As her research intensifies, Ailey decides to stop her affair with Scooter, no longer rationalizing it—as they both do—in terms of her hatred of Rebecca. She is a woman now and can blame no one for her actions but herself.

The historical documents Ailey is examining reference a man named Matthew Thatcher visiting Wood Place every month and note the deaths of Gloria, Rabbit, and a girl named Leena in 1859. Ailey knows Matthew Thatcher as the benefactor of Routledge University but cannot discern Thatcher’s connection to the Pinchards. She also finds a letter Nick wrote to Samuel 17 years after he ran away, relaying that he is free and well and has forgiven Samuel, even though Samuel is sure to be “sentenced to Satan’s fiery depths” (665).

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