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 5Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 5, Sections 1-4 Summary

This summary covers “This Bitter Earth,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Don't Let Me Lose This Dream,” and “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Part 5 focuses on Ailey’s mother, Belle. When Belle proves herself exceptionally intelligent in Chicasetta’s two-room schoolhouse, Uncle Root pays for her tuition to attend Routledge, where, like Ailey, she struggles with the school’s colorist norms and strict rules.

When a boy named Stanley asks her to a dance, the night ends with Stanley almost raping Belle in his car. She only escapes by telling him that her uncle is a professor at Routledge. Her next relationship, with Geoff Garfield, is much more respectful and loving. The new couple’s bliss is interrupted, however, when Belle receives word that her brother Roscoe has been killed in prison while serving a 20-year sentence on a chain gang. Although Belle mostly keeps the news to herself for fear of judgment, she does tell Geoff, who provides a comforting presence.

When Belle realizes she is pregnant, she and Geoff marry. His mother (Nana Claire, to Ailey) consistently treats Belle as inferior because Belle is significantly darker-skinned than the Garfield family. Geoff’s father (Gandee, to Ailey) is much kinder. Belle especially notices the contrast between how her mother-in-law treats her and how she treats Belle’s sister-in-law, a white woman named Diane.

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