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The Good Lord Bird Symbolism

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In 1776, the United States became a free nation independent from Great Britain. It represented a world where all individuals were equal and had the opportunity to start anew. However, that was not the case for African Americans. They did not receive the same opportunities as white citizens and did not get their “freedom” declared until 1865 with the creation of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery (The Library of Congress). To this day, the portrayal of African Americans is used as a tool to enhance the image of a white man or woman. The novel by James McBride titled The Good Lord Bird supports the idea of using African American characters in order to view the white characters in a more positive perspective. In this novel a crazy,…show more content…
He left his family to pursue a respectable name for himself, “He had a large family… He outlived the first wife and still had the second one… along with twelve children, them that weren’t killed off through sickness and disease” (McBride pp. 212). John Brown did not have money or a consistent job; he ultimately failed at everything he did. He would set his mind on something and then change it part way through. By joining the cause John Brown gave everything he had up as means to become a hero. By the time he joined the abolitionist movement he was old by many standards and Little Onion referred to him as such, “His face, always aged, looked even older. It looked absolutely spongy with wrinkles…” (McBride pp. 195). Why did he not join the movement sooner, while he was young and more capable? Why did he wait until all other possible opportunities were passed? John Brown became a hero through the support and dependence from black individuals. He couldn’t make it alone in white society, and by using African American slaves who would take any help offered, John Brown finally became a success. He would never have been seen as a hero without using the African Americans. Although Brown died for the movement, his start was not necessarily for the purest of reasons. Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad was written in…show more content…
Many would argue that Little Onion was the main character of The Good Lord Bird, but his role and presence in the story was dictated by John Brown. Everything Onion did was to please and support John Brown, and as a result, Onion appeared to be a puppet behind the string of Old Man Brown. John Brown became the center of attention and his story, not so much the story of a slave who took on a separate identity to survive, was told through McBride’s novel. Whereas Whitehead created the character Cora who because the leader of her own fate. She relied on the help of white individuals, but the narration did not center on the help the white individuals provided. Instead it focused on how Cora, the black slave, used their help to make it to a free state. Whitehead was not telling the white man’s story so he did not use black characters to make the white look more heroic. He acknowledged the important roles those in the Underground Railroad played and recognized the danger they put themselves in, but he did so in a way that did not demote Cora and her
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