Jacqueline Woodson's When A Southern Town Broke A Heart

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Have you ever felt safe somewhere, but realized your only protection was ignorance? In Jacqueline Woodson’s When a Southern Town Broke a Heart, she introduces the idea that as you grow and change, so does your meaning of home. Over the course of the story, Woodson matures and grows older, and her ideas about the town she grew up in become different. When she was a nine year old girl, Woodson and her sister returned to their hometown of Greenville, South Carolina by train. During the school year, they lived together in Downtown Brooklyn, and travelled to. Once Jacqueline has tasted the sweet life of freedom and privilege in New York, she realizes how ignorant she was about Greenville. Her Grandmother had been protecting her from the racism and segregation that permeated the town like a disease. Through metaphor and character growth, it seems obvious that Woodson is trying to convey the theme that perceptions of home can grow and changes as one grows older. One inference to be made in the story is when Woodson’s Grandmother warns her to stay away from the poison ivy slowly choking the base of a tree in their backyard. “...We’d been warned to stay away from the small patch of ivy that grew around the base of one tree in my backyard. But until that year, the consequence had been as theoretical…show more content…
“I spent long periods of the day bent over the ivy, fascinated by the promise if its danger – a danger I believed I was protected from – and would continue to be.” This quote is explaining how she was interested in the danger the ivy offered, and thought that it wouldn’t hurt her. The quote includes an example of how the poison ivy was a symbol of racism and how that changed her perception of home. Ever since Woodson was little, her home had always been racist. It just took her time to grow up and realize what was happening around her; to realized she wouldn’t always be
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